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As a boy, he sneaked away from an abusive high school coach to gulp water from a polluted river. He saw some of his teammates, desperate with thirst, drink from a puddle, and he heard of others who would do so from a toilet.
Now, 20 years on, Hiroki Kuroda shook his head and actually laughed a little when recalling — and trying to explain — the hardships he endured as a boy trying to follow his father’s footsteps and play professional baseball in Japan.
“It was a generation,” Kuroda said through an interpreter, “when coaches believed you should not drink water.”