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StarBulletin.com

National honor for Chase


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POSTED: Friday, November 13, 2009

After a career that included three decades covering UH baseball, Al Chase has hit one out of the journalists' ballpark.

The retired Star-Bulletin sportswriter yesterday was named the 35th recipient of the Wilbur Snypp Award by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association for outstanding contributions to college baseball.

“;I sure was surprised,”; said Chase, who retired in 2007 after 39 years with the Star-Bulletin. “;It really came out of the blue.

“;I knew about the award, but when you look at the names on that list ... the writers, the sports information directors ... it never dawned on me that someone might vote for me.”;

Chase covered more than 900 Rainbow baseball games, beginning in 1968. His 30 years on the beat included Hawaii's only trip to the College World Series in 1980.

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Chase introduced the first NCBWA poll in the 1970s and established the criteria the NCAA now uses for the annual active and retired baseball coaches career lists. He also served as NCBWA vice president.

“;In the beginning, I wrote letters to all the sports information directors, asking for their media guides or a list that showed their coaching records,”; he said. “;I was lucky the Star-Bulletin never complained when I put out 150 envelopes to be mailed.

“;Some schools were counting exhibitions against minor league teams or foreign teams, and I decided there should be a criteria. ... It took three or four years before all the math added up and I gave it to the writers association. The Star-Bulletin was the first to print the list every year and the NCAA took over, using that criteria, sometime in the '80s.”;

Chase's criteria remains the standard used today.

“;Al Chase has been one of the top college baseball writers, and for that matter, one of the top sportswriters in the country for 39 years,”; NCBWA executive director Bo Carter said in a release. “;He is one of the classiest people in the sports media industry.”;

Chase graduated from Hawaii in 1966 with a degree in physical education and a minor in Asian studies. He played baseball through high school but did not try out at UH.

“;In those days, UH did not play a collegiate schedule and played in the Hawaii Major League, with games going from spring to summer,”; he said. “;And the first few years, I was going back home (to Massachusetts) for the summers.

“;Besides, I didn't have a good senior year in high school. I don't think I hit above the Mendoza Line (.200).”;

Instead, Chase became a fixture in the Oahu soccer community, dropping off scores from local leagues to the Star-Bulletin. It led to a job as a sports clerk, then a full-time position as a writer.

During his career, Chase was known for his meticulous note-taking, his memory for statistics and for keeping his scorebook in pen. He eventually added coverage of Rainbow Wahine soccer and Rainbow Wahine basketball to his resume.

He resides in Hawaii Kai with wife Lee and is enjoying retirement, which includes time with his young grandchildren Noah, 3, and Maya, 18 months.

“;It was a pleasure to cover so many great players and outstanding coaches in both dugouts all those years,”; Chase said.

Chase's name will be added to the plaque at the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas.