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Baseball: Champion Japan Team Returns Home to Hero's Welcome


World Baseball Classic champion Japan has returned to a hero's welcome at Narita Airport outside Tokyo.

Huge crowds cheered Wednesday evening as Japan's triumphant baseball team arrived from the United States, after having defeated Cuba, 10-6, in San Diego, California, Monday to win the inaugural 16-nation tournament. Some fans waited for hours to greet the players and take pictures of the national heroes.

Tournament Most Valuable Player and starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka said he realized the scope of Japan's accomplishment, and that they were World Champions, when he saw the crowds at the airport.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters that he had not watched television with such excitement for a long time and that it was an incredible game.