On Thursday, August 2, 2012, the North End Athletic Association (NEAA) entered a team of 13-15 year old players to compete against an elite team of same-age boys from Japan! This annual Japan-Boston Baseball Exchange is sponsored by the Boston Red Sox Foundation and was played at Puopolo Park on Commercial Street. The Coaches for the NEAA Boys Team were be Ralph Martignetti and Frank Iudiciani.
In its inauguration five years ago, the Japanese boys and their coaches traveled to Boston; the following year, Japan was the host of this Baseball Exchange; and in its third year, the Japanese boys were back in town. However, the devastating tsunami prevented the Exchange from taking place in Japan, so in its fourth year, the tournament once again took place in Boston.
Because Fenway Park is celebrating its Centennial this year, the Red Sox Foundation decided that Boston should once again be the host of this exchange this year. The Japanese boys also competed against other Boston neighborhood youth teams during their visit, but the game against our NEAA boys included the unique annual post-game “dunk in the Mirabella Pool”!
The Japan team edged out the win, 3-2, against the North End team. Win or lose, this game was all about the experience, the second international game for NEAA this year. In June 2012, the NEAA hosted a team from Verona, Italy. See North End Wins First International Little League Game Against Verona, Italy.
Enjoy these photos from the annual tradition, taken by Rosario Scabin (Ross Photography).