Former baseball standouts to be inducted

Four former Menehune baseball standouts will be recognized this year.

Waimea High School’s athletic department and the Menehune Boosters Club will host its annual Menehune Legacy Hall of Honor on April 8.

“The Hall is dedicated to recognizing any athlete, coach or booster who has contributed to the Menehune symbol of spirit and tradition to the ‘Big Blue Machine,’” said Basilio Fuertes, Menehune Legacy Hall of Honor chairman, in an email.

This year’s inductees are: Gary and Glenn Nitta, Kent Yamase and Ross Kagawa.

“I think I was kind of lucky to be chosen,” Glenn Nitta said Wednesday. “There’s a lot of good athletes that came out of Waimea High School. I’m grateful and very honored.”

Glenn Nitta lettered in baseball, football and track at Waimea High School and was the school’s Outstanding Athlete in 1963. He was also a teacher and a coach at the school.

Gary Nitta lettered in baseball and football and was Waimea’s 1965 Outstanding Athlete.

The two Nittas are brothers.

“He was much better than I was,” Glenn said. He added, “Just being in with whoever got inducted, I’m glad to be with them — not necessarily with (just) my brother. It’s an honor for he and I to be inducted at the same time.”

Gary Nitta couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.

Kent Yamase played baseball for three years at Waimea and was the school’s 1972 Outstanding Athlete. He also lettered in swimming, tennis and volleyball.

“I’m an old man already. Those days are long gone. Just memories. I feel really honored to be inducted,” Yamase said. “Glenn Nitta actually was a coach of mine when I was playing.”

Yamase went on to play baseball at the University of Hawaii. He said among his best memories at Waimea was competing for a state title during his sophomore year.

Waimea lost to Kalani High School, 5-1, in the title game in 1970, according to HHSAA.

“We were able to compete, I really think, because of coach (Stanley) Dela Cruz,” Yamase. “He brainwashed us, thinking we can play with anybody in the state. He would have preseason games. Teams like Punahou and Waipahu, they would come and play us and we would beat them. That gave us like, ‘Wow. We can play with anybody.’”

Kagawa was a two-time Outstanding Athlete at Waimea (1983, 1984) and was inducted in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Hall of Honor in 1984.

“Just humbled and honored,” Kagawa said Thursday. “For me, I think it’s actually a credit to the teammates and coaches we had. During the time I played, we had a lot of success. It was because of good coaches and good teammates.”

Kagawa, who is a Kauai County Council member, was all-state in baseball and football and also lettered in basketball and track and went to play baseball for UH.

“I wasn’t the biggest. I wasn’t the fastest. I think I was just really determined to succeed. The things I learned at Waimea, we all worked extra hard in order to compete,” Kagawa said.

The banquet is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on the Waimea High campus front lawn.

For tickets, contact athletic director Jon Kobayashi at 338-6800, ext. 175. Cost is $20.

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