Sister city tradition brings San Mateo, Japanese youth baseball players together

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- It's not your typical little league game. Young baseball players in San Mateo are facing off against a team from Toyonaka, Japan as part a sister city tradition.

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The 11 and 12-year-olds from the San Mateo area try out for the goodwill team and those who make it take language and culture classes to prepare for their visitors-because this is about much more than baseball.

The kids from Japan actually stay with the families of the San Mateo players.
The catch is... they don't speak each other's languages.

The kids say it's fun trying to communicate with gestures and pictures... and when all else fails, Google translate.

The baseball game is played every other year... and the cities take turns hosting.

That means in 2019, the San Mateo team gets to go to Japan.

Organizers with the Sister City Association say it's amazing to see how nervous the kids are when they first arrive in Toyonaka and how quickly they adjust and become friends with their hosts.

San Mateo and Toyonaka have been sister cities since 1963.

The baseball exchange started in 1979.

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