LIHU‘E — Waimea Bluejays’ team mom Crystal Shimatsu was frantic leading to May 30 when the Bluejays would meet the Lihu‘e Marlins in Protect Our Nation’s Youth 13-14 baseball at the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Park baseball diamonds.
“Umpires are very hard to come by with all the different leagues like softball, high school baseball, Little League, and Pony baseball running at the same time,” Shimatsu said in an email. “The night before our game, I was scrambling to find a chief umpire because of prior commitments with our regular umpires. I contacted a friend to see if her husband would umpire because they lived on the Eastside where we were playing. He denied, which I totally understand because not everyone is comfortable taking on that responsibility, and neither would I.”
Shimatsu persisted, asking if her friend could ask her brother-in-law.
“To my surprise, he agreed,” Shimatsu said. “I told her that he could call the game from behind the mound, but he said it would do it behind the plate.”
That friend turned out to be Tyler Yates, a University of Hawai‘i Hilo graduate and former Major League Baseball player for five years, playing with the New York Mets, the Atlanta Braves and the Pittsburgh Pirates. During his MLB career, Yates compiled a 12-17 win-loss record with 222 strikeouts.
“He showed up the next day and did an awesome job with just a catcher’s helmet behind the plate,” Shimatsu said, noting the contest between the Bluejays and the Marlins resulted in a tie. “So, shout out to Tyler Yates for giving back to the community, no matter the circumstances. We appreciate you, your family, and also your brother Kirby for autographing our custom masks.”
Baseball runs in the Yates’ family as brother Kirby most recently underwent Tommy John surgery after signing with the Toronto Blue Jays to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million, plus incentives.
Kirby came through the ranks as a pitcher for Kaua‘i High School and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2005, rising to become one of baseball’s best pitchers in 2019 with the San Diego Padres, posting a 1.19 ERA with 41 saves.
Another Yates, Gary, fills one of the coaching slots for the ‘Ohana Rebels in the Kaua‘i Senior Softball league.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.