Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Monday, July 26, 1999

Community came
together for this
‘field of dreams’

OUR yard should look this good. Heck, so should mine.

The grass looks like it stepped out of Paul Mitchell Salon. It's that well manicured.

The infield is smooth, as if someone airbrushed it onto a canvas.

And the newly painted fences - the ones that needed a trip to the orthodontist - are as straight as can be.

No, it's not the Seattle Mariners' new Safeco Field, which opened last week. Nor is it Coors Field in Denver, which I had the pleasure of visiting a few weeks ago.

It's Keolu Field, this season's Field of Dreams for Hawaii's best 11- to 12-year-old Little Leaguers. Kailua American's ballpark began hosting the state tournament last Friday, showing off its newly painted dugouts and scoreboard.

A safe and playable field is one of those things fans and players take for granted when it comes game time. Often forgotten and overlooked are those volunteers who fertilized the grounds with their sweat and caring.

THE labor of love on Keolu Field began in May, just before the regular season ended.

"We'd go down whenever we could," said Lot Montgomery, manager for the Major Rangers. "How much time did I put in? I've got to check with my wife. I'm sure she kept track."

Montgomery and Don Ferreira headed a group of volunteers who spent 4-5 hours 3-5 days a week on the project. It included tilling the entire infield, bringing in new dirt, recabling the fences, and painting everything that Ferreira - a retired professional painter - could lay a brush on.

Over the past few weeks, it was a rare morning that commuters didn't see someone out watering the grass before 7 a.m. And someone would be there in the late afternoon, giving the infield another crewcut with a rake.

"We had lots of help," said Montgomery.

The ironic thing is Montgomery didn't even like baseball until a few years ago. The 1958 Kamehameha Schools graduate played football and basketball for the Warriors, but "I thought baseball was the most boring game ever invented," he said. "When my son (Jordan) started playing in 1991, at his first practice, I knew I had to be involved.

"I love being out there with the kids. And I love being outdoors. I just want to keep learning more and more about the game so I can help the kids."

THAT was the motivation for the renovation of the field. KALL agreed to host when Kona asked to skip its turn in order to host the Big League Tournament. Out came the power mowers, a Bobcat and donations of fertilizer, paint and hardware from neighborhood businesses.

With the help of Peter and Harry Pang, Adam Lui, David Kalama and league president Dean Hughes - to name a few - Keolu Field was ready to host the 9-10 district tournament as well as the major girls' softball all-star tournament earlier this summer.

"When Don and I looked at the field (last Wednesday), I knew we couldn't ask for anything more playable or safer," said Montgomery. "We're happy with it."

"I don't think you could count the man hours that went into this," said Hughes, who works for the state highways division. "Everyone worked together to get it done and we enjoyed doing it."

So thanks to all those volunteers who put in so many hours so that all of us can enjoy the fields. And - at least in Kailua - the next time I need my yard done, I know who to call.

Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.

E-mail to Sports Editor

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