Lihu‘e baseball gets Chevy Youth Baseball award

LIHU‘E — A surprise greeted the Lihu‘e Baseball League Phillies and Brewers Mustang teams prior to the start of their matchup Thursday at Lihu‘e County Park.

Arlen Miner-Ho, sales manager of Kuhio Motors, was accompanied by Allen Calumag and Wes Kaneakua and greeted by Tom Vallatini, former president and player agent of the LBL, to accept a check for $500 from the Kuhio Motors team on behalf of the Chevy Youth Baseball program.

“This is the inaugural presentation for Kaua‘i,” Miner-Ho said. “It’s all for the kids and the good work they do. We’re proud to be able to support their efforts and be able to make the right choices which will lead them to becoming good citizens.”

Vallatini said he was thrilled to accept the contribution on behalf of the LBL program.

“But they didn’t just give us funds,” he said. “They’ve come through with practice shirts for the players, whiffle balls, buckets to hold the balls, batting tees and pitching nets.”

He added in addition to all of the equipment and funds, the Chevy Youth Baseball program, through the efforts of Kuhio Motors, also provided donation tickets which will be sold for $5 each during the upcoming LBL Da Bash baseball tournament during Memorial Day weekend.

The prize for the donation will be the choice of a 2012 Chevy Equinox or a home entertainment center, Vallatini said.

“This should add some excitement to the already exciting tournament which features Kaua‘i Mustang and Bronco teams as well as visiting teams from O‘ahu, Maui and as far away as the Big Island,” Vallatini said, Miner-Ho, adding that the Kuhio Motors team will probably check into the tournament and possibly see what else they can do to spice the excitement.

The Chevy Youth Baseball program, now in its sixth year, is a grassroots initiative that establishes a positive relationship between local dealers and the communities they serve, states the Chevrolet Baseball website.

Chevy dealers sponsor their local youth baseball leagues as part of Chevrolet’s nationwide commitment to support youth sports, one community at a time.

“This is all about the kids,” Miner-Ho said.

The 2012 program will provide assistance to approximately 350 leagues in the Northeastern region and Chevrolet dealers will contribute more than $600,000 in monetary and equipment contributions.

The LBL serves the communities of Lihu‘e, Puhi and Hanama‘ulu and was created in 1952 to “instill the ideals of good sportsmanship, honesty, loyalty, courage and reverence in the boys of the community,” state the LBL website.

Initially organized as the Lihu‘e Boys Baseball League, the group was organized for boys between the ages of 9 through 15 with eight inaugural Little League teams and six PONY  League division teams.

Tee-Ball division were later introduced for young players between ages 6 and 9 with four teams.

The league changed its name to the current LBL in 1995 when girls were permitted to participate and the T-Ball division expanded to 10 teams.

In 1998, LBL entered entirely into the National Protect Our Nation’s Youth League.

Vallatini said today, LBL programs encompass youth from ages 5 through 14 and the league hosts six Mustang (ages 9 to 11) teams, four Bronco (ages 11 to 13) teams, 11 Pinto (ages 7 to 9) teams and 12 T-Ball, or Shetland (ages 5 to 7) teams.

Details for the upcoming LBL Da Bash Memorial Day tournament will be forthcoming.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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