Keenan Sue says China is simply unlike anything he has seen.
The Punahou baseball team was en route to Nanjing to play with more teams. Sue, the varsity baseball coach at Punahou, is with the team on a tour that has taken the Buffanblu to different locations to play against teams from Major League Baseball academies. Punahou has 67 players and parents on the voyage.
“The cultural experience we’ve had thus far has been amazing,” Sue texted on Friday night, which is Saturday afternoon in Nanjing. “It will take at least a few weeks to process the significance of all that we’ve experienced — the sights, the sounds, the pace, the rich history juxtaposed against the inevitability of progress — but I suspect it will be nothing short of life-changing for not only the players, but everyone in our group.”
Punahou held its graduation last weekend and the returning underclassmen are hopeful of building on last season’s 12-7 record. The Buffanblu have advanced to the state tournament just once in the last five seasons. Playing baseball is fun enough, of course, and competing at a high level is never short of challenges. Going abroad to the Middle Kingdom, however, is an education in itself.
“What’s most exciting for both our hosts here, and our own players and staff is that baseball is becoming an unlikely bridge between our cultures. The game is in its infancy in China, and we are grateful to contribute towards growing the game of baseball and connecting both Hawaii and the United States to these ‘smaller’ cities in China,” Sue wrote. “And, of course, when I say ‘small,’ I speak relatively. The last city we played in has a population of 4.3 million.”