The American participants at this year’s World Children’s Baseball Fair in Fukui were joined by event founder Akiko Agishi (far right) and Japanese baseball legend and home run king Sadaharu Oh (center right). (Photo courtesy World Children’s Baseball Fair)

The 23rd annual World Children’s Baseball Fair was held Aug. 18-26 in Fukui, Japan, with young players traveling from 15 nations to take part.

The WCBF is a non-profit organization established in 1989 by former professional stars Sadaharu Oh and Hank Aaron, along with Dr. Akiko Agishi, in the interest of fostering an environment of world understanding and cultural exchange through the celebration of baseball, which became an Olympic medal sport for the first time at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

This year’s event included baseball clinics, meeting local kids and sharing in cultural exchange events, and learning the basic skills of baseball, with an emphasis on fun and participation. This is a time for the children to enjoy and share their love of baseball.

The clinics are run by coaches who are selected by the International Baseball Federation. The players learn a great deal, regardless of their levels of experience.

After the morning clinics, the children and chaperones participate in educational and recreational excursions and activities.

Ryan, an 11-year-old player from Cooperstown, N.Y., commented, “Ever since I was a kid, I have always wanted to play in the majors, on the New York Yankees! Playing shortsop in the majors would be a dream come true. I think this fair helped me a lot at my strongest position in baseball. In the future I would want to come back to Japan and stay here.”

The inaugural WCBF was held in Los Angeles in 1990, at UCLA and Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Nearly 5,000 participants – boys and girls, 10 and 11 years old, from 91 countries/regions on six continents – have taken part in the global event.

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