Cal Ripken Jr. puts on youth clinic in earthquake-damaged Japan
Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. traveled to Japan to convey hope and lift the spirits of youngsters affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country on March 11.
Ripken put on a baseball clinic while in Ofunato, as part of a nine-day mission serving as a sports diplomat on behalf of the U.S. State Department. Ripken, who played 2,632 consecutive games, and passed Lou Gehrig’s mark of 2,130 in 1995 to become Major League Baseball’s Iron Man, was joined by his former Orioles teammate Brady Anderson and Japan’s own Iron Man Sachio Kinugasa, who passed Gehrig’s benchmark in 1987 on his way to 2,215.
“We were able to provide a small distraction,” Ripken told the Associated Press. “Something that makes you feel good, makes you smile and maybe just for a brief moment helps you get through the day.”
Ripken was humbled while viewing the devastated area on a tour.
“Going through the areas and seeing it firsthand started to get me emotional,” Ripken said. “There is no way you can fathom the scale of what happened by seeing it on TV. When you are standing there and looking left and looking right and seeing some signs of how high the water came — some people told me it was almost 50 feet in some areas — you can’t realize what anyone would do in that situation.”
Ripken also traveled to China in 2007 and Nicaragua in 2008 as a public diplomacy envoy.
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