Time, and softball, heal old wounds

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais
  • Air Force News Agency
Players from two senior softball clubs met here recent to play a historic game. The Kids & Kubs senior softball team from St. Petersburg, Fl., and the Over the Rainbows senior softball team from Japan played a game at Hans L'Orange Park in Waipahu.

The players ranged in age from 75 to 88 years old, and both teams comprised World War II veterans.

"Just imagine.  Sixty six years ago, approximately, we were shooting at each other!" said Andy Devine, an 82-year-old Navy veteran of WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

"And what better way for two countries to get together -- enemies to friends -- than Japan and America, who love baseball," he said.

While the Kids & Kubs team is celebrating its 78th year, the Japanese team was put together specifically for this event. Players like Susumu Yasukura, an 84-year-old veteran of the Hiroshima Ujina Army Shipping Corps, said they enjoyed the opportunity to make friends out of former enemies.

"I'm glad the war is over," said Mr. Yasukura. "I want to have a friendship with the American people, and I'm very happy about the fact that I can play baseball and extend friendship," he said.

Age apparently has no negative influence on the competitive spirit. While they did keep the spirit of the game in mind, members of the Kids & Kubs were also intent on bringing home a victory.

"The primary purpose of the game is to build goodwill between the two countries," said 77-year-old Jim Archey, pitcher for the Kids & Kubs team. "We're going to do everything we can do to make that goodwill," he said.

And then, flashing the kind of wise smile only a man of his age can manage, he added, "Except we're still going to go out for the win."

"We're just here to have fun, and whether we win or lose, it really don't make a difference," said Kids & Kubs team member George Favre, "even though everybody likes to win," he said.

The Kids & Kubs got their win with a final score of 14-2. But more significantly, they also settled an older score. They used a game they love to help put the past behind them.

We're old enough now, we forgive," said Mr. Devine. "We won't forget what happened but we'll forgive them, and I think it's a great thing.

"When I leave here I'm gonna figure I made that whole Japanese team, whether it's twenty people or whatever, I made twenty more new friends," he said.

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