Final walk-off home run for Borsch
IF baseball is played in heaven, no doubt Ferd Borsch already has become the official scorer.
Borsch, the longtime Honolulu Advertiser sports writer, was remembered at his funeral Mass yesterday for his love of THE game ... baseball, the perfect sport that, theoretically, is designed to never end.
His scorebooks were meticulous -- done in pen, never pencil. The 77-year-old estimated he had covered over 5,000 games, from every home game the Hawaii Islanders played (1961-1987), to numerous seasons with the UH Rainbows.
I was fortunate to be in the press-box lineup with him for what can only be called a brief appearance at the plate. Particularly memorable are the Islanders' final home stand in 1987 and the Rainbows' NCAA regional ride in 1992, the first because of Ferd's kindness, the second for his desire for a real Epicurean experience.
There is nothing harder in sportswriting than to walk into a press box or a locker room cold, not knowing the lay of the land, where to go, who to see, who to talk to and not talk to. Ferd, ever the gentleman, made sure I didn't lose my way at Aloha Stadium when covering the Islanders. He did not have to -- he was the competition -- but all he saw was a colleague in need of instructions and introductions. He wanted to help, as he had been helped when starting his career in Oregon.
Over the years we shared many a hard bleacher at small-college basketball games, after-deadline meals at the Lahaina Denny's during the Maui Invitational.
And then there was the gourmand odyssey in Tucson, Ariz., during the NCAA regional. The restaurant's name escapes me -- Ferd remembered when last we spoke -- but it was European-style fine dining, so good the UH coaches showed up the second night, then beat us there on the third.
On May 19, Ferd was feted by more than 100 friends and family members with a baseball-themed luncheon. He wanted me to share a locker-room story where I had been barred because of being female. Ever the professional, he took a stand that night, saying he would not go in for interviews because it wasn't right I was being excluded.
THAT is who Ferd was. Life played fairly, between the baselines.
It was difficult to visit my friend at the hospital last month, but we had a grand time reminiscing for about an hour. Stories and times ranging from Lefty Dreisell's tantrum in Lahaina, to Tommy Lasorda's recent visit, to Riley Wallace's last season coming up with the Rainbows.
A promise was made he'd be home when I returned from the mainland, that together we'd go through the book "The Joy of Keeping Score," which I had bought him.
Instead, yesterday's service concluded with the singing of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" before his inurnment at Nuuanu Memorial Park. Ferd's just a long fly ball away from where Alexander Joy Cartwright is buried at Oahu Cemetery, where Ferd's initials are included on Cartwright's tombstone.
I can only imagine the stories those two will share.