Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga throws the first pitch to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts at the start of the May 11 game against the New York Mets. A large contingent from the Okinawa Association of America was on hand to cheer on the governor as well as Roberts, who was born in Okinawa and was honored with a bobblehead doll that night.

It was an evening of island home flavor at Dodger Stadium on May 11 as pregame festivities featured sights, sounds and personalities from Okinawa.

Takeshi Onaga, governor of Okinawa Prefecture, was on hand to meet and greet several players and Dodgers staff, including team manager Dave Roberts, who is a native of Okinawa.

After chatting with dignitaries, including former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, Onaga had the honor of throwing the game’s ceremonial first pitch.

Okinawan drumming troupe Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko performs ahead of the game at Dodger Stadium.

Onaga was on a week-long caravan tour of Okinawan communities in the United States, to promote the sixth annual Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival, taking place in Okinawa from Oct. 26 to 30. This trip took the group to L.A., Vancouver, Washington, D.C. and Hawaii.

Onaga said he would like to invite Roberts and his family to join the event, “after the Dodgers win the World Series.”

Starter Kenta Maeda shows his displeasure after giving up the second of two home runs to Noah Syndergaard, the Mets’ pitcher.

The night’s game held an extra special attraction for the Japanese visitors, as countryman Kenta Maeda was making the start for Los Angeles.

Maeda, who made a splash in his first few games, pitched well, aside from two particular pitches. Both were hit for home runs, and both by the opposing pitcher, Mets starter Noah Synergaard.

“They were definitely not good pitches, the ones he hit for home runs,” Maeda said after the game, a 4-3 New York win in which Syndergaard drove in all of his team’s runs. “I feel bad that those two pitches ended up as a total of four runs.”

“You take away those Syndergaard at-bats, I think Kenta threw the ball well,” Roberts said. “One through eight, he did a great job. But he wasn’t as sharp as he has been with fastball command or breakingball crispness. But he still finds a way to get guys out.”

Photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo

Noah Syndergaard connects for his second dinger, a three-run shot in the fifth inning.
Dodger manager Dave Roberts and Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga share a laugh before the game.

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