Japanese baseball team ready for trip to Cedartown


Members of the Kimoto Tech Friendship Game organizing committee are shown above. They are, left to right, Cedartown City Manager Bill Fann; Kimoto Tech President Miguel Leal; Hideki Komori, Manufacturing and Engineering Technician at Kimoto Tech; Cedartown Youth Baseball representatives Rick Baxter and Steven Nikolopoulus and Kimoto Tech Human Resources Administrator Tania Drain.

Cedartown, Ga. – On Saturday, August 2, the phrase, “Play Ball!,” will bring together two cultures from opposite sides of the globe for a friendly game of baseball.

Twenty children from Japan will make the 15-hour journey from their hometown of Inabe City, Mie, to Georgia to run bases and catch pop-flys with the Cedartown Bulldogs on the baseball diamond at Bert Wood Youth and Athletic Complex.

The 10th Annual Kimoto Cup is being billed this year as the Japan-U.S. Friendship Baseball Game and will be the first time that the game has ever been played on American soil. The game is open to the public and city officials are encouraging residents to attend.

“We would love to see the stands full of Cedartown residents showing support and cheering on both teams,” said Cedartown City Manager Bill Fann. “This event has been a full year in the making. Both the Cedartown team and the Japanese team are very excited to share a fun game of baseball together and learn more about each other’s culture. The City of Cedartown is proud to help host this event and thankful to play a part in it.”

Japan-based KIMOTO Co., LTD and Cedartown’s Kimoto Tech have been the driving force in bringing the game to Cedartown, paying for travel and expenses for members of the Japanese team, along with their chaperones. City of Cedartown officials and Cedartown Youth Baseball representatives have worked with Kimoto Tech over the past year to ensure that preparations have been made to welcome the 11 and 12-year-old guests to Northwest Georgia.

Miguel Leal, president of Cedartown Kimoto Tech, explained that KIMOTO Co., LTD president, Mr. Kazunobu Kimoto, desires to maintain a close relationship with the communities in which the company works and serves. “KIMOTO Co. has a long history of initiating events like this in Japan and other parts of the world.  It is Mr. Kimoto’s belief that we share multiple common bonds as citizens in our local communities.  There is no better way to express these common bonds than through a friendly series of baseball games and spending time together to share experiences.”

As part of the weekend’s events, Cedartown’s Westside Elementary School will host the Japanese team for a cultural exchange event with local students.

Opening ceremonies for the Kimoto Friendship game will take place at 8 a.m. at the Bert Wood Youth and Athletic Complex, 605 Lynton Drive in Cedartown. The Star Spangled Banner will be performed by Cedartown resident Eli Shaw and Japan’s anthem, Kimigayo, will be performed by the entire All Inabe baseball team.

Distinguished guests speaking during the opening ceremony include Cedartown Kimoto Tech President Miguel Leal; KIMOTO Co., LTD president, Mr. Kazunobu Kimoto; Japan Consulate General Sunaga and State House Representative Trey Kelley.

The first pitch for game one will be thrown at 9 a.m. The first pitch for game two will take place at 1:30 p.m.

Closing ceremonies will include a speech and the presentation of trophies to both teams by Mr. Kimoto, as well as remarks by distinguished guests Dale Tuck, Cedartown City Commission Chair, and Scott McMurray, Director of the International Division at the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Representing the All Inabe team are players Taichi Ando (No. 3), Yosuke Kadowaki (No. 8), Shotaro Ariyoshi (No. 15), Kenta Hashimoto (No.6), Rui Inden (No. 9), Rinta Nakamura (No. 13), Taisei Sakaeda (No. 5), Takumi Saito (No. 17), Kakeru Mori (No. 16), Masaki Shiratsuchi (No. 4), Tomohisa Tanaka (No. 2), Kota Yamada (No. 12), Ryoga Hirai (No. 14), Yuto Morihashi (No. 11), Taiyo Nakamura (No. 7), Sodai Tadokoro (No. 10) and Yusei Ito (No. 1).

Representing the Cedartown Bulldogs are players Easton Oxenreider (No. 4), Seth Davis (No. 1), Eli Eli Wigley (No. 11), Tyler Gosdin (No. 9), Davis Wagoner (No. 99), Chadriq Neal (No. 21), Caleb Arnold (No. 10), Griffin Elder (No.8), Cleve Jordan (No. 13), Ty Wilcox (No. 1), Will Pilgrim (No. 14), Mason Bennett (No. 22) and Taji Hudson (No. 5).