Readers Write

Friday, May 24, 1996

Time to face the truth about Coach Murakami

Some islanders are saying "What about loyalty to a coach who has brought UH baseball to national prominence?"

Excuse me ... when was this? In the past!

Look at what happened to Bob Wagner ... the football team wins the Holiday Bowl, by crushing a good Illinois team. Four years later, bye-bye Coach Wagner.

Why? Attendance and revenue. That is why Coach Wagner's firing made ESPN SportsCenter, and who covered it? Larry Beil, a former local resident.

And you have loyal fans talking about loyalty. What about Dick Tomey? Defense was the best thing we had going for the UH football program. What happened? "Desert Swarm" ring a bell with anybody?

If this could happen to Coach Wagner and Coach Tomey, why can't it happen to Les Murakami? Where is the fire that used to burn in UH baseball? Gone!

How many all-state players has Les Murakami recruited in the last few years? You know, Hawaii used to churn out baseball talent year after year, compete strongly against bigger and stronger mainland players and come back with first place and second place plaques ... tournament champs. Recently, Aiea became American Legion baseball champs. How many of those players are playing for UH?

The players Hawaii has produced, they all go away. They hear the stories, which a majority of the time turn out to be true. Then these players see the facts. Players leave school or they get injured. Pro prospects end up getting hurt here (Levon Largusa).

It's time for a change. A more vibrant change. Sure, people are going to boycott if there is a change, but what if the team does well? The true blue Rainbow baseball fan will still be there. The true blue baseball fan will become curious and return to the ballpark.

It is not like they are going to just jump ship and watch HPU play - although in the past I think HPU would have beaten UH a few times.

So the true die-hard baseball fan would understand. For all you wannabes, start learning what baseball is all about ... heart, soul, team.


'Hawaii Pono'i' in L.A. was chicken-skin time

It was a memorable and regal moment when "Hawaii Pono'i," Hawaii's anthem, was sung in unison by 3,000-plus UH fans at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion before the Penn State-UH men's Final Four volleyball match.

With immense pride and deep feelings, everybody sang it stirringly. It was a teary-eye, chicken-skin and lump-in-the-throat time. You had to be there to experience this feeling. Never before was "Hawaii Pono'i" sung as such outside of Hawaii. Former Hawaii residents were overwhelmed. It was one of those times when there were no racial identifications - all were Hawaiians.

This was all made possible by three loyal Rainbow fans, Larry Wong (retired HPD lieutenant), Lani Kealoha (musician) and Alika Cullen (Catholic Diocese worker). They had planned this singing before leaving for UCLA. Just before the game, Larry went to each section and instructed UH fans to remain standing after the national anthem, on cue to immediately start singing "Hawaii Pono'i."

Lani gave the key to start from her ukulele. Alika and Larry led the crowd singing, with Lani and husband Jimmy holding up the Hawaiian flag.

Several mainlanders came over to express their admiration and they had learned from us how to support their teams.

UCLA drowned out our singing the song with their loud band playing two nights later. It was too bad that the two women officials with the UH athletic department who traveled with the team, or even the booster club, did not make arrangements for the UH players to receive flower leis, a Hawaiian tradition.

Every one of the UCLA players received flower leis.


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