Bring it Back Home: Amherst Baseball Presents Doshisha Exchange Recollections and Perspectives Event
Issue   |   Fri, 11/07/2014 - 00:50
Photo courtesy of Brian Hamm

On Oct. 25, the Amherst College baseball team presented a personal and informative recap of the 2014 Amherst College-Doshisha University Cultural Exchange, entitled “Recollections and Perspectives: Amherst-Doshisha (Japan) Baseball Cultural Exchange.” The event took place in Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall.

In addition to a general overview and slideshow presented by head baseball coach Brian Hamm, the event also featured remarks by Director of Athletics, Don Faulstick, professors Trent Maxey and Samuel Morse, former Dean of Faculty Gregory Call, and Mark DeWaele ’79. The idea for the trip was kickstarted by Hamm, DeWaele, and Morse after a fundraising event for the Sendai region following Japan’s devastating triple disaster — an earthquake followed by a tsunami and meltdown at the Fukashima Nuclear Plant — on March 11, 2011.

“From the beginning, when Mark, Morse and I shared in this vision through the many events and ultimately the tour, we wanted learning to be the primary objective,” Hamm said. “This culminated with the Recollections and Perspectives event, and it really was inspiring to see students, faculty, athletics and community engagement mesh together into something extraordinary.”

The exchange, which took place from August 3 to 15, consisted of a three-game series against Doshisha and tours of many religious, cultural and historic landmarks in cities such as Osaka, Kyoto, Sendai and Tokyo. The Tour looked not only to build upon Amherst’s relationship with Doshisha, this time in an athletic setting, but also to introduce the student-athletes to cultural and societal aspects that the players likely would not have seen otherwise. This included attending a Japan Professional Baseball game in Tokyo and experiencing different types of traditional lodging and dining accommodations.

“Probably the coolest thing from the game, and really all of our games with Doshisha, was seeing how differently baseball is played in Japan,” said senior Jack Falvey. “It’s almost unrecognizable. They don’t go for the long ball, but they play defense and utilize deception. It’s small ball at its finest.”

Additionally, the team was invited by the Consul General of Japan to run a baseball clinic at Tagajo Middle School. Tagajo was one of the areas affected by the triple disaster.

“It was an unreal experience to take part in this trip,” said junior Travis Strickler, “But to give back to an area that’s been going through a tough time was probably the highlight. It’s an area that needs any and all kinds of support and for us to break the language with something like baseball touched me a lot.”

Student-athletes from the trip also participated in a panel, fielding questions from the audience, as well as sharing experiences from the trip. Players on this panel included Falvey and Strickler, senior Louis Hunt and junior Pike Goldschmidt.

Members of the baseball team who could not make the trip to Japan said they benefited greatly from the panel. “I am convinced that the impact of the Japan trip stretches beyond the 29 community members who participated in the exchange,” sophomore George Long said. “Following the panel, I realized how the cross cultural experience with Doshisha aided in the growth of the Amherst Baseball Program. The guys learned so much from the trip and were fortunately able to bring back what they learned for the rest of us. The values presented are something I, along with the rest of the baseball team,will hold onto for a long time.”
The Recollections and Perspectives event served as a venue to share the team’s experiences with the public, as well as serve as starting point for future athletic and cultural relations with Doshisha. DeWaele ended his remarks with a recount of his presentation of the Amherst-Doshisha Trophy, signifying the start of a recurring cultural exchange. The plan is for Doshisha to travel to Amherst at some point in the coming years.

“The tour is an example of the coming together of alumni, faculty and athletics, for an experience that speaks to the true mission of Amherst College,” Hamm said. “And that is to mesh the academic, athletic and extracurricular experiences within an undergraduate education for a truly special and unique experience.”