A pitch for goodwill: Friendship Games between Japan and La Jolla begin with weekend of baseball

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The international Friendship Games between La Jolla Youth Baseball and teams from Japan started over the weekend, with 56 visiting Japanese players 13 and younger playing a series of exhibition games against local players.

This week, the young guests will tour San Diego, attend a Major League Baseball game and more while being housed by local families.

The festivities began Aug. 11 when the Japanese players arrived at La Jolla’s Cliffridge Park to fanfare and flag waving for both countries.

The exchange program will bring young Japanese baseball players to La Jolla this year and send LJYB players to Japan next year to begin an ongoing relationship.

May 14, 2023

La Jolla Youth Baseball fields teams in the Shetland (6 and younger), Pinto (7 and younger), Mustang (9 and under and 10 and under), Bronco (12 and under) and Pony (14 and under) divisions.

Under the Friendship Games partnership, the Japanese players visited La Jolla this year and LJYB players will go to Japan next year. The alternating trips will go on for the foreseeable future.

“This is one of the highest honors that Pony Baseball International bestows upon a league,” LJYB President Scott Blumenthal said in May after La Jolla Youth Baseball was awarded the partnership. “This is beyond thrilling.” ◆