Tokyo, Japan (WTVR) – Fans who flocked to see the Seattle Mariners take on the Oakland Athletics at Major League Baseball’s season opener in Tokyo today paused to remember a Midlothian teacher killed in last August’s earthquake and tsunami.
Before the start of the game a video tribute aired honoring individuals who made extraordinary efforts to help others when tragedy struck on March 11, 2011. Famed Yankees Short Stop Derek Jeter narrated a portion of the video dedicated to Anderson’s story.
Anderson was teaching English in Ishinomaki when the earthquake struck. She led her class to safety, making sure her students were safe with their families before heading to her apartment. She was riding home on her bike when the tsunami hit. Her body was found 10 days later, making Anderson the first American casualty of the natural disaster.
Taylor’s parents, Andy and Jean Anderson, were in attendance today, and each were given the honor of throwing out the first pitch.
MLB.com reports Andy Anderson brought a memento of Taylor’s with him to the pitcher’s mound. Her pink cellphone.
“”I had Taylor’s cell phone and her straps … because they remind me of her, and when I think about her, I feel stronger, so I was able to get the ball in there,” Anderson told MLB.com. “That’s what I thought about: Taylor.”
The Andersons said they were grateful to be invited to the event.
“My message to the people of Tohoku is that Jean and I have had a loss, as many of the people of Tohoku have, and what we think about is remembering Taylor and how we think she would have acted, and honoring her by acting in that way,” Andy Anderson told MLB.com.
“So I hope what the people in Tohoku can do is think the same. I just think that we all have to heal, and the way to heal is to look forward and hope. I think remembering our loved ones and how they acted gives us a lot of hope. And I think that helps you get up every day and have the courage to change your life, because people have to change their lives after what happened.”
Anderson was just one of three everyday heroes honored in the video.
Boston Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine told the story of Shinji Takai, a strawberry farmer. Takai started the memory recovery project, an initiative to find and restore photos that were lost and damaged during the earthquake and tsunami
Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. spoke about Naho Hozumi, a stay at home mom who stepped up to coordinate relief efforts in Tokyo.
Taylor Anderson attended Richmond’s St. Catherine’s School before attending college at Randolph Macon. Her parents established the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund in her memory to assist with the recovery efforts in the Tohoku region.They’ve raised more than $215,000 to date.