Deaf high school baseball player performs at first pitch ceremony

The first pitch ceremony was held in the fourth quarterfinal game of the inter-city baseball tournament in Tokyo Dome on August 30.

Masakazu Ishiduka (16), a high school freshman at Kanagawa Prefecture Hiratsuka School for the Deaf, threw a ball out to his mother, Kyoko (41) who was his catcher. The ball shed her mitt.

Masakazu put off his hat and shyly smiled in front of the 11,000 spectators who gave him a large shout of joy and applause.

He became deaf caused by the high fever when he was seven months old. When he was 4 years old, he was enrolled in Yokohama Municipal School for the Deaf.

It was so far from his home that his father had to remain in the hometown because of his job; Masakazw and his mother moved near the school and they started to live in an apartment. After returning from the school he used to paly a ball with mother, which he indeed enjoyed.

He returned to the hometown when he was a fifth grader of elementary school, and was enrolled in a hearing junior high school in the town. He joined the rubber-ball baseball team.

His skills didn't reach far compared with his hearing teammates though the world was widened. He sometimes cried because communication with them did not go well. He often shut himself up in his own room.

He was transferred to the middle school department of Hiratsuka School for the Deaf and joined the rubber-ball baseball team. The smile returned to him. He was happy to talk in sign language with Deaf friends. He had a friend who would play with him on holiday, too. He has practiced so hard that he works now as the shortstop and the reliever.

His team participated in the preliminary contest in Kanagawa Prefecture for the national rubber baseball tournament this summer and was defeated cold in the first match. However, there are some teammates who have a dream of becoming a professional baseball player.

Masakazu stood on the mound in the dome with the uniform used for the practice and threw out the ball with "his teammates' dream on his shoulders".

After the first pitch ceremony, Mother watched her left hand and said with a wry smile that it was painful. And yet she was happy with her son getting mature.

Masakazu, gripping the ball thrown for the ceremony firmly, said, "My team will win next time".

Source in Japanese:

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