Friday, June 10, 2005


New league set to start

The Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League begins its first season tomorrow with a doubleheader at Aloha Stadium.

The league is part of the nonprofit Hawaii Youth Sports Foundation and was started by Al Kam, the assistant baseball coach at Kamehameha Schools.

The idea is not new. Kam, who pitched for the University of Denver in the 1970s, has been talking about such a league for 10 years. He played summer ball in the Jayhawk League when he was in college and thought there was a need for such a league in Hawaii with a focus beyond the field.

"We took only (NCAA) Division I players or junior college players if they are committed to a Division I school," said Kam. "We have high school kids here who are great athletes, but they are shy academically. We want our kids to realize they have to do the job in the classroom, that they have to crack the books. We want them to aspire to being able to get into a good four-year college.

"They have to realize you can only play baseball so long. If you don't have a degree, then what happens? There were 1,501 players drafted this year. What that really means is 1,501 players lost their jobs because they have to make room for the new players."

The four teams -- Waikiki Surfers, Oahu Paddlers, Hawaii Aliis and Kamuela Paniolos -- will play a 43-game schedule that runs through July 23, including a two-day championship series the final two days.

The Surfers play the Paddlers at 4 p.m. and the Aliis meet the Paniolos at 7 p.m. in tomorrow's openers.

Doubleheaders are scheduled for 4 and 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and at 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday. There is a $2 admission charge.

The coaches are Waikiki (Keith Komeiji, head; Rigo Lopez, assistant; Mike DeKneef, volunteer); Oahu (Mark Kertenian, head; Steve Gewecke, assistant; Dexter Sardinha, volunteer); Hawaii (Mike Buchmiller, head; Jim Yanko, assistant), and Kamuela (Tony Nieto, head; Mark Hirayama, assistant; Keenan Sue, volunteer).

"I just think this is a great thing to do, to provide an inspiration for Hawaii kids to succeed athletically and academically," Kam said.

"We are fortunate to have quite a few players from the Pacific-10 Conference (20), the West Coast Conference (18) and the Western Athletic Conference (15)."

The players, about 30 to a team, are staying in the Hawaii dorms.

Although there were inquires about the league champion playing in the National Baseball Congress tournament in Wichita, Kan., in August, Kam declined this year.

"I knew there would be a lot of kinks to work out the first year," Kam said. "We're focusing on the product on the field and taking care of our players. Maybe next year when we know how to do things better."

Three Hawaii recruits -- right-handers Tyler Davis and Danny Caldwell and shortstop Jorge Franco -- and Rainbow catcher Esteban Lopez are playing in the league along with a number of island players attending mainland schools.

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