The logo is for the Friendship Series between Japan PONY Baseball and United States PONY Baseball. The Series is the brain child of Mr. Shinsuke Ito. He communicated the history to me not long before is death, through an interpreter.
The Friendship Series has been an annual event since 1974. Mr. Ito saw that "Our people don't know one another, our societies don't understand one another, and our governments don't always like one another. Mr. Ito's solution was to set about building bridges and understanding through a common thread, baseball. On alternate years, each country assembles one team that travels to the other for 10 Days of baseball. During competition players stay with host families. Mr. Ito was adamant that while they can compete on the field, there must be an exchange of customs off the field. Home housing of players is a key part of the experience. In its simplest terms he said, I want your children to be our children. We can teach your children our ways, discipline. I want yours to teach our children how to smile.
Players typically range in age from 13 to 16 years of age, but most are 15 years old when it s their turn to shine. This is the last year for Japanese players to play summer ball before they begin their high school baseball career.
Friendship alums have gone on to play professional baseball, in both Japan and the United States. The Friendship Series has been played in the nicest of professional ball parks and in forgotten sandlots across Japan and the United States. Sometimes the teams are greeted by governors, mayors, and professional players. At other times the greeting comes only from those charged with getting the team to the field. Some of the games have been broadcast on television, radio and written about in national papers, others recalled only by those in attendance. This year the series will be in Japan, specifically, Sapporo, Hokkaido; Kumagaya, Saitama and Chiba, Chiba.