Tuesday, June 29, 1999
Island Movers learn moreBy Jerry Campany
Special to the Star-Bulletin
HIROSHIMA, Japan - The Hawaii Island Movers are getting a lot more out of their current road trip than baseball experience.
During their grueling 18-game journey throughout the main island of Japan, the Movers stopped in Hiroshima for three games in two days. Within a half hour of arriving in the city, they gathered at Hiroshima's Peace Park.
After the United States dropped the world's first atomic bomb on Japan Aug. 6, 1945, the city of Hiroshima erected a series of monuments to peace as a reminder to the rest of the world about the destructive power of nuclear weapons. Seated in the middle of those monuments is a museum detailing the destruction suffered by the people of Hiroshima. Its graphic displays have gained at least one convert.
"I used to always say when Saddam Hussein and everyone else threatens to do stuff to us, whatever - just nuke 'em," Mover outfielder Matt Ramie said.
"But after coming here I'll never say that again. If I hear anybody say something like that I'm gonna be mad. It was one of the biggest lessons I've ever learned in my whole life about the value of peace."
These Movers have a chance that previous Hawaii summer league teams did not, and they chalk it all up to the game of baseball, and the unique possibilities it has afforded them.
"Sports in general opens so many doors for young kids, it has kept me out of trouble, and let me see the world," Movers captain Buster Small said. "I have been traveling all over since I was 10 years old, all because of baseball. A lot of people, especially in Hawaii, don't ever get that chance. If I never played baseball, I probably never would have left Hawaii."
Donald Takaki, President of Pacific Region Baseball Inc., is the man who makes these young men's dreams come true.
Takaki travels with the squad to serve as an ambassador to Japan, and is the driving force behind Island Movers baseball year after year.
"Without him we wouldn't be here," head coach Tom Gushiken said.
The players dedicate every victory to Takaki, and see every loss as a lost chance to please a father figure. The Movers follow Takaki because he gives them a chance to play the game they love throughout the summer, not knowing that he does it for reasons that have little to do with baseball.
"We do this to develop these guys with the hope that they can become great leaders in the future, and part of becoming a great leader is understanding cultures because the world is getting so small now," Takaki said. "In particular for the kids from Hawaii, because Hawaii is so insular and protective, it is very important that we give these kids a full range of experience."
The Movers will be in Japan until July 6, when they will return to the islands with a better understanding of the game of baseball and the world around them.
"I gotta be diverse and see as many things in the world as I can," outfielder Rah-Miel Mitchell said.
"Baseball has been my ticket to a lot of places, and this has been one of the most important. There is a lot of history here I have to check out."
Woody Clifford hit a 380-foot home run but the Hawaii Island Movers lost to Tokai University, 8-5, in an exhibition baseball game yesterday.
Movers lose despite Clifford's homerStar-Bulletin staff
The Movers fell to 2-7 on their 18-game road trip to Japan. Two games last week were canceled due to rain.