Deaf school boy aspiring to become professional baseball player

Soma Hironaka (right) practices on batting
with the advice of his coach (left).

The All Yamato Boys in Nara Prefecture has a Deaf boy, named Soma Hironaka. He is a junior high school freshman at the Nara Prefecture School for the Deaf.

Soma, who became deaf when he was 7 months old, is 148 cm tall and weighs 40 kg, a rather small physique for a player. However, Coach Agi says, "Soma's speed to react by sight and the self-judgment are much the same as any hearing player, aside the physical look".

Soma who had seen his father, Akihiro, playing amateur baseball is a right throw left-hander. His defense position is an infielder chiefly and a pitcher.

The captain, Oyagi, says, "If we make O (okay) or X (no way) with the fingers, we can communicate with Soma. When he does not understand, we write".

When Soma was a fourth grader, he used to throw and catch the ball with Hiromasa Okashita, a hearing boy five year senior. He is a high school senior, and one of the old boys in the league. He played at the National High School Baseball Championships last summer.

Hiromasa says, "Playing baseball with Soma was our communication. I am glad that he keeps playing baseball. He is like my little brother".

Ever since Soma followed Hiromasa as his role model, who inspired him to continue the sport after he became a junior high school student.

The Boys League requires each player to report the date of birth for screening before the baseball game starts. They limits the bench only with the supervisor, the coach, and the person in charge. However, they would permit the parents to accompany if a letter explaining the reason is submitted to the league.

When he was a fourth grader, Soma once wrote: "I want to become a professional baseball player". This may not a dream to him at all as a few Deaf or hard of hearing professional baseball players are active nowadays in Japan.

Japanese source:

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