|MLBPA Press Release|
Prior to the start of the first game of the series, a video tribute recognizing three everyday heroes will be shown. New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will share the story of Taylor Anderson, an American teaching English in Ishinomaki, Japan, who led her class to safety but lost her own life returning to her apartment. Her parents, Andy and Jean Anderson, established the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund in her memory to assist with the recovery efforts in the Tohoku region. Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine will tell Shinji Takai's story, a strawberry farmer who started the Memory Recovery Project, an initiative to find and restore photos that were lost and damaged during the earthquake and tsunami. Lastly, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. will speak about Naho Hozumi, a stay-at-home mom who volunteered with Hands on Tokyo collecting and distributing supplies and has gone on to become the organization's Tokyo disaster relief program manager.
At the end of the video, a number of Major Leaguers, including Felix Hernandez, Curtis Granderson, Matt Kemp, Joe Mauer and Carlos Zambrano, celebrate tomodachi, the Japanese word for friendship. In the months after the earthquake and tsunami, Operation Tomodachi was a United States Armed Forces operation to support Japan in disaster relief.
Hozumi, Takai and Andy and Jean Anderson will attend Game 1 of Gloops Japan Opening Series 2012 and each will throw out a ceremonial first pitch. Nine young ballplayers from a clinic with members of the Athletics and Mariners, sponsored by Boeing and held in Ishomaki, will participate in a special pregame ceremony prior to the March 28 game. The kids will take the field with the Athletics in the first inning to symbolize the return of baseball in the hard hit Tohoku region.
Gloops Japan Opening Series 2012 will mark the first MLB season opener in Japan since the Boston Red Sox and Athletics played at the Tokyo Dome in 2008.
Upon conclusion of Gloops Japan Opening Series 2012, the Mariners and Athletics will travel back to the United States to complete an abbreviated exhibition schedule before resuming their Championship Season schedules.
Organizers of Gloops Japan Opening Series 2012 include MLB, MLBPA, NPB and Yomiuri.