IT'S quiet. It's a little out of the way. But it's a start.
Hawaii Sports Hall
of Fame is worth trip
The Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame is tucked away in a hallway of the Paki Building at Bishop Museum. Don't ask for a map at the front desk; Paki isn't on it.
But if you go through Polynesian Hall to the courtyard, hang a right at the water fountain and then a left at the open door, you'll find it.
The trip is worth it.
Hawaii's athletic history comes to life here. From Duke Kahanamoku to Jackie Pung to Toots Minvielle. From Olympians to world rodeo champions to the creator of baseball.
The exhibit opened last week with pictures, biographies and memorabilia of the Class of 1998, The inaugural inductees are from the pre-statehood era; the 22 members of the Class of 1999 accomplished their feats during the 1960s and will soon have their places in the hallway.
The plan by the selection committee is to honor athletes by decade, with the Class of 2000 coming from the '70s. By 2002, the Hall will be up to date.
It will also be out of room. Those 22 inductees honored at tonight's banquet will about fill up the current allotted space.
Bishop Museum is an ideal spot for the Hall. Other places had been considered -- Aloha Stadium, Honolulu Airport -- but the museum is a perfect setting with the right ambience.
Local people and visitors alike can easily access the Hall. The museum's gift shop even carries logo items.
I missed the Hall's gala opening Thursday, but I'm not sorry. Saturday, there was no crowd, no Pro Bowl cheerleaders, no celebrity guests.
Saturday, it was just me and Duke and Jackie and Toots. And a lot of their friends.
It was intimate. It was inspirational.
And it needs some space. Legends need room to grow.
MARCH Madness will take on a whole new meaning for Alika Smith. The former University of Hawaii guard is looking to trade passes for pitches.
Smith, who has not played baseball since his senior year at Kalaheo High School in 1994, will leave next month for the Anaheim Angels' rookie camp in Boise, Idaho.
The Angels had been interested in the left-handed Smith out of high school. The 6-foot-1 Smith played both first base and pitcher; he lost just two games in three years on the mound.
But the Mustangs' two-sport standout opted for his first love: basketball. He had hoped to play both sports at UH but decided to concentrate on hoops.
After playing for the Rainbows for four seasons, Smith signed with the Dakota Wizards of the International Basketball League, coached by Steve Tucker, the former Hawaii Loa coach.
Smith earned a starting position at shooting guard but was sidelined by a groin injury. He was released by the Wizards earlier this month and returned home to weigh his options.
Basketball is still a possibility. Smith's agent is working on a contract with a European pro league.
There is also a contract from the Angels. Smith had been recommended by Moose Stubing, a WAC basketball referee and an Anaheim scout.
"The Angels tracked me down in North Dakota," said Smith. "I was surprised. I haven't pitched since high school. That's a four-year layoff.
"But I'm going to give it a try and go for the experience. It can't hurt. Who knows. This might be my calling. I love basketball and I like baseball. But this way, I still get to make money playing.
"It's nice to have options."
Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.