PONY Baseball is hoping the Tokiokas go away like one hit wonders.
But they won’t.
In the latest chapter of the Pono Tokioka story, in which PONY Baseball clearly discriminated against the 10-year-old deaf Lihu‘e boy in a PONY mustang event last July, the organization finally released a statement to a local newspaper in Pennsylvania.
Abraham Key, president of PONY Baseball and Softball wrote, “While we acknowledge that the Justice Department is conducting an investigation with respect to allegations of discrimination concerning a player in Hawai‘i, we categorically deny that we have discriminated against this player.”
“The player in question was permitted to participate in all league and tournament activities and competition last season and continues to participate in league competition this season. The player has never been denied an opportunity to participate,” Key continued.
This new development angers the Tokiokas, who are hoping to change the rule, which currently doesn’t allow interpreters in the dugouts during games.
PONY rules allow three coaches in uniform to sit in the dugout for contests. A fourth person in the dugout would be grounds for disqualification.
“We’re really mad. Department of Justice was here doing interviews in late April. We’re hoping that they will make a ruling in the near future. We still have no doubt that we will prevail,” Pono’s mom Beth Tokioka wrote in an e-mail to The Garden Island yesterday.
To say they never discriminated against Pono is basically like telling someone that the sky isn’t blue.
Pono is still participating in PONY Baseball this season, but at the bronco level for the Rockies of the Lihu‘e Baseball League.
Earlier this week, it was good to see him interacting with his teammates and coaches out on the diamond in Lihu‘e.
He is in his natural element on the field, playing the sport he loves.
And if PONY wakes up, they too will understand what the sport means to Pono.
To take that away from him would be a big mistake.
The saga continues, but let’s hope it turns in the right direction soon!
• Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org.