By Belinda Otordoz

PITCHING FOR SUCCESS. Japanese baseball legend Tsuyoshi Yoda coaches Little League and Secondary League players in Mulanay town, Quezon province through an interpreter. He also gifted the kids with baseball bats, balls, gloves and shoes during Saturday’s (Jan. 27, 2024) free sports clinic. (Photo courtesy of Mulanay Public Information Office)

MULANAY, Quezon – Legendary Japanese baseball pitcher Tsuyoshi Yoda shared his wealth of knowledge in the sport with members of this town’s Little League and Secondary League teams during exhibition games staged as part of the ongoing Cocolunay Festival.

The “Besuboru” (Japanese baseball) celebrity said Mulanay’s Little Leaguers (12 years and below) and Secondary Leaguers (13 to 18 years old) impressed him with their skills during games held over the weekend at Kaibayo Beach in Barangay Sta. Rosa.

“We had a baseball clinic where I met all the kids who are playing baseball. I’m happy I played some baseball with them. I hope to come back again soon. I also want to learn the culture of your people, especially those in the province,” Yoda said before leaving town late Sunday afternoon to catch his flight to Japan.

The Japanese sports star also pointed out that while Mulanay’s young ballplayers lack exposure to the broader sporting circuit, they are filled with potential and should be honed further.

“The kids here are shy but I can see some who have potentials to be a good pitcher,” said Yoda in Nippongo, translated by an interpreter.

Yoda assured the young athletes that he would be coming back for a longer clinic.

A total of 40 kids from this town benefitted from the star pitcher’s tutelage.

For his part, Mayor Aris Aguirre said players of the town’s Little League baseball team already distinguished themselves in several Palarong Pambansa games, and the training they received from Yoda can only make them even better.

“Mr. Yoda’s excellent coaching prowess, imparted during the clinic before the game, was already apparent during the exhibition games,” he said after the town’s Little League beat a rival.

Aguirre said Yoda’s clinic and visit to his town were completely free of charge, with a bonus of free baseball gloves, bat and shoes handed out to the young players.

A plethora of activities is being held during the 10-day Cocolunay Festival, which highlights Mulanay’s origins and the major source of income of its populace which is coconut.

Among the lined-up events are an agri-tourism fair, “kalamay” cooking competition “with a twist”, and a street dancing competition.

The festivities will culminate on Feb. 4 when Mulanay celebrates its 279th founding anniversary. (PNA)