Kamikaze
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Tokyo Dome War Monument

Two stone monuments erected in 1981 stand outside of Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants professional baseball team. The right one has 69 names inscribed of former professional baseball players who died in battle during World War II. The left one has the following words about Shinichi Ishimaru, a star pitcher who died as a kamikaze pilot:

My younger brother Shinichi was a pitcher for the Nagoya professional baseball team. He won 20 games in 1943 and was selected to the All-Star Game. On December 1, 1943, he joined the Sasebo Naval Corps. He became an Ensign in 1944. Later he was assigned to the Kamikaze Special Attack Force Jinrai Corps in Kanoya.

Shinichi received an order to sortie at noon on May 11, 1945, and he pitched a white ball into the glove worn by a war comrade.

Yes, ten strikes

Then he boarded his plane after giving to his comrade the ball, glove, and a headband with the word "courage" written on it. His plane flew away toward the south in search of enemy ships.

Playing baseball was my happiness
A life filled with devotion and filial piety
I have nothing to regret even though I die at 22

His final letter with the above words and his baseball were delivered together to his bereaved family. When he played catch with a pure white ball, there was neither life nor death in Shinichi's heart.

Tokichi Ishimaru, Representative of Bereaved Families

Tokichi Ishimaru played professional baseball on the Nagoya team with his younger brother Shinichi. The short life of Shinichi Ishimaru is the subject of the 1995 movie Ningen no Tsubasa (Wings of a Man).