Baseball in Beijing!

Beijing 286 We are very grateful to have had an opportunity to meet many great people from the Feng Tai Experimental School in Beijing for an afternoon of baseball and a fabulous dinner together. We want to thank their Head Coach Zhang, and assistant coach, Zhang Wei (of the China National Team) for all their efforts to organize this event. The time we spent with them will be one of the true highlights of our trip.

Beijing 296 The Feng Tai school has about 3,000 students, and goes from first through twelfth grade. After age eight, most of the students live at the school during the week. Their dorm rooms hold eight students each. From the interactions we observed, there seems to be a lot of closeness among the children there that was very moving. Most of the children at the school don’t have brothers and sisters (true for most children in China), so classmates seem to become a big group of loving brothers and sisters.

Beijing 320 We headed over to their baseball field, and I have never seen such a nice field for younger players. It puts the field we played on in Charleston, South Carolina, (and most other U.S. fields) to shame. The stands hold several thousand people, the outfield grass was perfect, and it the dirt in the infield smooth and very playable.

Beijing 312 The coaches ran a great practice for the players. They did a good set of warm-up routines, took infield and outfield practice, and then we played an intra-squad game, with everyone batting four or five times against the team’s pitchers. It was nearly dark before practice was over, but everyone played at a high-level throughout the session. I was impressed with all aspects of theirBeijing 316 team’s skills, but especially with their fielding and knowledge of field position. They are obviously very well coached. And some of the kids had very strong arms. I think we should watch for some of these players on future China National Teams!

Beijing 337 We had brought the team hats from the U.S. (Boston Red Sox) and they wore them through practice, and looked terrific in them. I’m hoping they put them to good use during their coming season. In talking to them, it was clear they were not familiar with any of the U.S. teams. They did follow JapaneseBeijing 327

baseball, however. I found it interesting that these players were so skilled and committed to the sport without the benefit of famous national players.

Beijing 394 After practice, the team organized a big and totally fun dinner at a local restaurant. They included six of the boys from the team, but also figured out a way to include four girls from the school, so that our daughter could interact with them. I was amazed watching the kids play together, despite some language challenges. The players from their school all were studying English, though, and Beijing 396 made great efforts to talk to our children. One way or another, they had a fabulous time. At the end of the night’s festivities, they gave us three pictures of the boys from their team, which are fabulous. They also gave our son a team uniform and our daughter a soccer team uniform from their school. I was humbled by the kindness and generosity of this great group of people. I hope each of them has a chance to come to the United States someday (perhaps as Major League Baseball players!!), and we can repay their hospitality!!

To see a slideshow of our great time with this group, complete with captions (!), go to

http://dintersmith.phanfare.com/album/394279/582391

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