"Hawaii Winter Baseball is more than just baseball," league president Frank Kudo said at a press conference yesterday. "We are proposing to help the state create a new sport industry, one that will create new jobs, new business and new tourists."
"Hawaii is at a crossroads where we can no longer depend on a single-industry economy," said league owner Duane Kurisu. "Pro baseball can be a strong catalyst to bring economic, social and cultural rewards to the islands and the world."
Kudo cited a report from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce stating the financial benefit the state has derived from nine major league teams having spring training in Arizona. Some 900,000 visitors have been drawn to the baseball league during the eight-week training camps.
Japan's Seibu Lions already make Maui their spring training home for two weeks out of the year. Kubo would like to see more teams from Japan, as well as teams from Taiwan and Korea, use Hawaii's facilities to prepare for their respective seasons.
The professional baseball organizations of Japan, Taiwan and Korea have been more than satisfied with the development of the players sent to the Hawaii Winter League. So is Major League Baseball, which has prompted the Hawaii Winter League to expand to six teams for the 1997.
Yesterday, the league unveiled the logos for its two new teams: the Kaneohe Bay Dawgs and Kona Man O' War. The Dawgs are tentatively scheduled to play at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base-Hawaii while the Man O' War plans to call the Old Kona Airport field home.
This year's rosters will increase from 24 to 26 spots, adding two pitchers to each team, but the 104 slots are still not enough to meet the demand. Major League Baseball alone wants to send 90 players from its Class A and AA teams.
California Angels (sending 5 players), New York Mets (5), Boston Red Sox (4), San Diego Padres (2), St. Louis Cardinals (2). Manager: Demarlo Hale (Boston).
Kansas City Royals (5), Pittsburgh Pirates (4), Arizona Diamondbacks (4), Montreal Expos (3), Seattle Mariners (2). Manager: Jeff Banister (Pittsburgh).
Colorado Rockies (5), Los Angeles Dodgers (4), Florida Marlins (4), Baltimore Orioles (4), Toronto Blue Jays (2). Manager: P.J. Carey (Colorado).
West Oahu CaneFires
Tampa Bay Devil Rays (5), Cleveland Indians (5), San Francisco Giants (5), Detroit Tigers (4), Chicago Cubs (2), Detroit Tigers (2). Manager: Jeff Datz (Cleveland).
"While I can't tell you all the names of the players who will be here, I can tell you that they are considered the premium players in their organization, kids they feel will one day play in the major leagues."
One player that Krasik named was 1995 Molokai High graduate Mike McCutcheon, who was drafted in June by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 23rd round. McCutcheon, a left-handed pitcher who played for Modesto (Calif.) Junior College this past season, will play for the Honolulu Sharks.
Krasik, representing the Officer of the Commissioner, also announced a three-year extention of MLB's agreement with the Hawaii Winter Baseball through 1999.
"It's a wonderful thing that happens here," said Krasik. "There's an international flavor where teams from the mainland, Canada, Japan and Korea can work together, indicating how our game is truly a global one.
"We're very happy with the league. As far as the expansion, we do have some consideration which we want to look at as far as facility standards. There has to be lights, seating for 2,000, no divots in the field, enough room in the dugouts, a clubhouse or temporary trailer where players can get dressed, a training room."
Krasik joined league officials in viewing the Marine Base site yesterday afternoon, then flew to Kona today to check that venue.
The league announced it will start its fourth season Oct. 11 with the West Oahu CaneFires hosting the Hilo Stars and the Honolulu Sharks traveling to Maui.
The four teams will play a 54-game schedule with an all-star game scheduled for Nov. 29 at Maui's War Memorial Stadium and the league championship game on Dec. 13 at Hilo.
Guy Yoshida homered and Derek Tenn tripled home two runs to lead Olomana to a 4-2 victory over Robo in the Oahu Summer Baseball League championship game at Ala Wai Field Wednesday night.
Kala Kaluau pitched six strong innings to earn the victory.
Robo's Reid Young belted two home runs to account for all of his team's scoring.
Corey Ishigo was named the Most Valuable Player for the playoffs and Daven Hermosura the Most Outstanding Pitcher.