Saturday, May 28, 2022 |
Share this story
Little League baseball for boys 8 to 12 came to Lihu’e in the early 1950s with a full roster of nine teams with 15 boys per team. I started out as an assistant coach for the Grove Farm Tigers, and Fred Lawrence was coach.
I lasted about three years when the coach of the Garden Island Motors White Sox resigned halfway through spring training. Being a director of GIM by then, I got the honor of being the head coach. Mervyn Masumura was my assistant coach.
We took over a team that was devastated by the sudden change of coaches, but we tried to pull together. We had a slow start but managed to win games about halfway through the season. At the end of the season, I started the tradition of a dinner for the team at Hanama’ulu Cafe for the whole team, no matter where we ended up for the year.
During the sugar strike of 1958, the league was able to get some used lumber and telephone poles, so we first built the back stop and then the stand behind the backstop with a cover so most of the fans would be dry during a shower. Last was the outfield fence built to league-standard distances.
Now we had a professional-looking layout. The outfield fence was moveable so when Little League was over for the year, the fence could be pushed out for the Pony League.
Little League baseball is fun but sometimes can be hard on the soul.
I had to kick two of my boys off the team at various times for not obeying the rules or fighting — one boy for half of a season, but I let him back for his two last years as a little leaguer. He was almost an angel for those years. The other boy came back after three games when he figured that I was serious and turned out to be a good player and smart on the bases.
It was a challenge to see how far one could go with a boy of 8 to 12 when he had to retire from Little League. Some, who at first you thought would never make anything of himself, became stars and some roped by the wayside.
One item to remember was the boys who became policemen and they remembered you as their coach or a coach of another team and, if you were pulled over in routine traffic stop, he would come up to the car and say, “Remember me? I used to play for your team.” At this stage of my life, they are all retired from the force. Now some of them are going through the aches and pains of coaching.
One of the last games I coached was against the Tigers. Fred Lawrence always pitched batting practice and threw a hard fast ball so his batters could hit my fastball pitcher. I put the fastball pitcher on first base and got an 11 year old who had good control but threw a slow ball.
Our pitcher had the Tigers tied up in knots trying to hit his slow ball out of the park. Toward the end of the game, my son David had stolen third and Dennis was on first with a walk when David said to me that their catcher was just lobbing the ball back to the pitcher. David said he was going on the next pitch, which he did and made it.
Dennis had gotten a signal from David and he stole second and was heading to third when the pitcher threw the ball to the third baseman, who wasn’t expecting the ball, so Dennis made it home easily.
Fred would not speak to me even socially for a couple of weeks. We won the game by those two runs. At the end of that season, I retired from coaching but would go and umpire whenever they needed me.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
By participating in online discussions you
acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful
discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments
are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines,
send us an email.