HALL OF FAME
STAR-BULLETIN / 1979
Derek Tatsuno's No. 16 and Les Murakami's No. 11 are the only retired uniform numbers in UH history.
Tatsuno on top
A former UH pitcher makes it into the College Baseball Hall of Fame and a current one throws a shutout
Derek Tatsuno was all laughs yesterday -- especially when asked if the kids he coaches on the Punahou junior varsity have any idea about his status as one of college baseball's all-time greats.
"Are you kidding? They weren't even born yet. They could all be my sons," said Tatsuno, who recently learned he was voted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in its second year. "These kids are a different breed."
Some of their fathers might be barely old enough to remember how Tatsuno, now 49, mowed down hitters with an electric fastball and pinpoint control as a record-setting left-handed pitcher at the University of Hawaii in the late 1970s.
Tatsuno can't show every youngster how to throw a 90-mph fastball, but he can teach them the game.
"It's up to the kids what they get out of it," Tatsuno said. "We try to teach them from the experience we have and hopefully pass that down to them and help them become a better ballplayer and person."
Today, he impacts baseball in Hawaii by quietly nurturing young talent. But when he was at UH, Tatsuno overshadowed everything else on the local sports scene for three springs.
"After all these years, he's still the best college pitcher I've ever seen," said Rainbows baseball voice and Hall of Fame voter Don Robbs. "At his best, Derek Tatsuno was absolutely dominant.
STAR-BULLETIN / 1979
Derek Tatsuno will be inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas, on the first weekend in July.
"At that old stadium with the metal bleachers and the popcorn machine, Derek was the Pied Piper. Whenever Tats pitched, that place was packed, and he just came out and dominated," Robbs added.
The numbers back it up.
After a stellar prep career at Aiea, Tatsuno went 40-6 from 1977 to 1979 at UH. In 1979, he set still-standing NCAA records of 20 wins and 245 strikeouts.
Arm trouble kept him out of the majors, but he played pro ball in Japan and three seasons in the minors in the U.S.
Baseball America named Tatsuno to its All-Century Team, and Tatsuno, Pete Incaviglia and Phil Stephenson shared Player of the Century honors from Collegiate Baseball in 1998.
Tatsuno said he's looking forward to the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, July 2-4, in Lubbock, Texas.
"Obviously it's a great honor," he said. "It's the pinnacle."
UH coach Mike Trapasso is also among the Hall of Fame voters. He said Incaviglia (his former Oklahoma State teammate) and Tatsuno both should have been members of last year's inaugural class.
"Pete was a cocky kind of player. So what? That's not what we're voting on. I never saw Tats pitch, but I understand he had that swagger about him too," Trapasso said.
John Askins of the College Baseball Foundation said an official announcement on this year's class will be made April 10.