Former high school Deaf baseball teammates relate experience how they overcame discrimination

There was a school for the deaf, called the Fukui Prefecture School for the Deaf, in Fukui City.

In the summer of 1974, the school's baseball team won the prefecture rubber-ball baseball game. But they were told that because of being Deaf, they were not possible to play in the Hokushinetsu Game, one of the regional games, which would lead to the National Rubber-ball Baseball Games for High Schools if they won.

However, the team's zeal moved the High School Baseball League, and got the chance to participate in the national baseball game at the end.

The panel discussion was held in Fukui City on November 6, 2008, sponsored by the Fukui Prefecture Welfare Society of the Deaf. About 150 Deaf and hearing people gathered. (see the photo on the link below)

After a documentary film taken at that time had been shown, the panel discussion was held. The former members of the Deaf baseball team related their experience at that time.

Nobuhiko Fukushima, who was an ace and the captain, explained how he reacted when he knew that his team was not allowed to play the baseball at a national level. He was angry and felt discriminated in spite of that all people are the same human beings.

Shinichiro Hamada who was the shortstop said that still he never gave up and focused on the practice because "I loved baseball so much that I had dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player."

Currently Hamada works as a ceramic artist, and Fukushima is a lacqering master. They say, "The hardship we had faced at that time had been got over afterwards."

Akihiro Yonaiyama, a professional Deaf actor from the Japanese Theater of the Deaf, who served as the coordinator at the panel discussion, commented that the Deaf team worked so hard that it became a legacy: to review the regulation on participation limitation for a school serving children with disabilities in Japan.

The audience in the hall sent the generous applause to the effort that the former baseball team members who had kept chasing "a white ball" to the utmost.

Source: Chunichi Shimbun, Dec. 7, 2008
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