According to Baseball Reference, there have been 30 players born in Hawai‘i, the first being a 24-year old pitcher who made his major league debut and departure in the same year, 1914. Johnnie Williams, called “Honolulu Johnny,” was a right-handed pitcher who made three starts, lost two games, and had one complete game for the Detroit Tigers. Since then, there have been a few more players from the islands that have made bigger impacts, such as Sid Fernandez and Benny Agbayani, both of whom played in the World Series for the New York Mets, although separated by 14 years. Fernandez pitched in that World Series while Agbayani played in the 2000 Subway Series, affectionately known to everyone outside of the five boroughs as “Who Cares?” I cared enough to cheer on Benny. I was thrilled when he was picked up by the Red Sox in 2002.
As I have written before, I have a place in my heart for any kid from the islands that makes the big time. One player that made a tremendous showing in the 2004 College World Series for Cal State Fullerton was Kurt Suzuki. That same year Suzuki was drafted by Oakland in second round as the 67th pick overall, the first Hawaiian player to be drafted.
My thoughts are turning back to the islands becase I’ll be there for the next few weeks. I can’t imagine a more ideal and idyllic place to devise my fantasy league strategies for my first foray into the hobby. Also, sheer chance, USC will be playing UH for the first time since 1993 and the First Hawaii Title Rainbow Baseball Tournament will take place while I’m there. It will be a unique opportunity to scout some players. The baseball team of the University of Hawai‘i, my alma mater, is off to a strong start. The Rainbows won the season-opening series against Tony Gwynn’s San Diego State Aztecs 4-1 and are currently 6-2.