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Japan prime minister throws out first pitch

NEWLY elected Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, a noted baseball fan, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Los Angeles Dodgers-Pittsburgh Pirates game yesterday.

Hatoyama didn't stand in front of the mound, as those throwing such pitches often do. Wearing a Pirates game jersey, he toed the rubber, went into a full windup and, like many Japanese pitchers, paused briefly in his delivery before throwing a low pitch that hit the dirt after crossing the plate.

Shortly before making the pregame toss, Hatoyama met with Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, from Osaka, Japan. Hatoyama was in Pittsburgh for the two-day G-20 economic summit, which concluded earlier in the day.

While standing on the mound, Hatoyama waved his hands above his head when it was announced to the small crowd at PNC Park that he was a Pirates fan. Before leaving for the United States, Hatoyama practiced with longtime Japanese pitching star Masumi Kuwata, who appeared in 19 games with Pittsburgh in 2007 at age 39.

Atsunori Nakao, a Pittsburgh physician who was in charge of the group that greeted the Japanese delegation, served as Hatoyama's catcher.


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