Hoskins honored to take Players Oath in Japan

TOKYO — In sports, it’s normally the adults who preach about sportsmanship and fair play, while it’s up to the kids to absorb that information and hopefully take it to the field with them with an intent to do things the right way.

But on Friday at the Tokyo Dome, the tables were turned, and the adults — namely, the players on both sides of the diamond participating in the Japan All-Star Series — were making a promise to the kids to, quite simply, behave themselves.


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TOKYO — In sports, it’s normally the adults who preach about sportsmanship and fair play, while it’s up to the kids to absorb that information and hopefully take it to the field with them with an intent to do things the right way.

But on Friday at the Tokyo Dome, the tables were turned, and the adults — namely, the players on both sides of the diamond participating in the Japan All-Star Series — were making a promise to the kids to, quite simply, behave themselves.


View Full Game Coverage

“The symmetry, the full-circle moment of [how] they’re trying to get where we are and now we’re saying what they usually say to us,” Phillies left fielder Rhys Hoskins said. “It was a really cool moment.”

Just before first pitch on Friday, both teams took a “Players Oath,” pledging integrity and sportsmanship. In front of a sold-out Tokyo Dome — and more significantly, to 50 youth baseball participants who were invited onto the field to hear the pledge — one representative from each team recited the pledge in his native language.

Video: MLB Tonight: Japan All-Star Series

For the Major Leaguers, it was Hoskins; for the Japanese All-Stars, it was outfielder Kazuma Okamoto.

“Today, we declare as a team and as individuals our dedication to fair play in all aspects of the game of baseball,” Hoskins said, looking directly at the kids as he recited the words. “We promise to respect each other, our competitors, the umpires and the game itself. We’ll promise to abide by the rules and give 100 percent effort to provide the best possible performance for the fans here tonight.”

This type of oath is not unusual in Japan. Every youth baseball tournament in this country begins with each participant first approaching attending adults and pledging to play with respect and fair play. The unusual part, of course, was that this time, it was the adults taking the oath.

Major League Baseball, having made an unprecedented commitment to youth baseball in the past several years, saw the Japan series as a prime opportunity to present the first Players Oath to Japanese baseball fans who are used to hearing similar pledges, but only from the kids.

Tweet from @Cut4: A few of our guys (temporarily) traded in their baseball uniforms for kimonos. #JapanAllStarSeries pic.twitter.com/VizJetv6sz

“It’s really just as important for us and for Major League players to make the oath to the kids,” said Jim Small, MLB’s Asia Pacific vice president. “To say, ‘Look, we’re going to play with respect and fair play. We’re going to work really hard to do everything the right way.'”

MLB was supported in the venture by both Nippon Professional Baseball and The Baseball Federation of Japan in this public service campaign, a highlight of the new “Time for Fair Play” campaign that promotes year-round awareness of the importance of integrity in sports.

For Hoskins, the on-field moment Friday brought back fond memories of his own childhood, when he was both playing and watching Little League baseball.

“I grew up watching the Little League World Series, and I played Little League,” Hoskins said. “There was always an emphasis on sportsmanship there. Whether it’s between the two teams or at the opening ceremony. That’s what it reminded me of.”

• Thursday: MLB All-Stars 9, Yomiuri Giants 6
• Friday: Samurai Japan 7, MLB All-Stars 6
• Saturday: 6:30 p.m. local/4:30 a.m. ET
• Sunday: 7 p.m. local/ 5 a.m. ET
• Tuesday: 6:30 p.m. local/4:30 a.m. ET
• Nov. 14: 7 p.m. local/5 a.m. ET
• Nov. 15: 6 p.m. local/4 a.m. ET

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

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