CRIS MANCAO / 1914-2006
Longtime athlete shone on diamond
Local baseball and softball legend Cris Mancao died of natural causes at his Makiki home on Tuesday. He was 91.
Mancao's longevity as a ballplayer was unrivaled in the islands. After stardom in the Hawaii Baseball League in the 1940s and '50s, he was asked to play for the Triple-A Hawaii Islanders -- in 1961, at age 47.
"They called me at work, and I thought it was a joke," Mancao said in a 2000 interview. "Next thing I know, I'm in Seattle on a road trip."
It turns out he was just getting started.
Mancao continued to pitch against barnstorming big-league teams, including the New York Yankees of the Mickey Mantle era. One of his proudest moments was inducing Willie Mays into an out.
"He hit this pop fly that was the highest thing I ever saw. I was lucky he didn't connect on the right part of the bat," Mancao said in 2000. "I told him, 'Better luck next time, brah.'"
He pitched his last hardball game at age 60, shutting out a team of men less than half his age for five innings and getting the complete-game win.
Mancao continued to play softball until about three years ago.
"He was in bad shape the last couple of years," longtime friend Pat Brown said, "but he was always smiling and friendly. Everybody loved him."
In 1995, 80-year-old Mancao was on the Hawaii team that won the 75-plus title at the Senior Softball World Championships in Kansas.
Ronnie Mancao said his father did not care about notoriety on the diamond.
"He taught us just do your thing and do it well. If people want to give you awards, they'll give you awards," the son said.
Cris Mancao is survived by wife Felisa, daughter Melissa Mancao-Young and son-in-law Edward Young of Honolulu, and son Ronnie Mancao, daughter-in-law Judy Mancao and granddaughter Crishelle Young of Honolulu* Services are pending.
Tuesday, February 7, 2006
» Crishelle Young of Honolulu is the granddaughter of Hawaii baseball great Cris Mancao. A story on Page C5 Saturday had an incorrect last name and hometown.