LIHU‘E — “There were a lot of good guys in there,” said John Patt, coach of the Koloa Cane Cutters, and credited with “being very instrumental in moving forward with the inaugural” 70s division senior softball league. “These were not just good baseball and softball people, they were just good people.”
The Koloa Cane Cutters is just one of four teams that inaugurated its first day of play at Isenberg Park Friday morning with Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami throwing out the traditional first pitch to eight-time All Star Pitcher Tetsu “Tats” Tamashiro who had the uniform of the Tropical Tsunami.
“There’s a lot of firsts taking place, today,” said Rodney Pimental, a player from the Kaua‘i Softball League who dropped in to watch the inaugural action that unfolded under the morning sun that quickly dissipated the overnight chill. “Joe Fontanilla of Na Koa Kupuna was the first batter. And, not only was he the first batter, he hit an in-the-park home run!”
In the opening contest where the Tsunami was chasing Na Koa Kupuna for a handful of runs, the Tsunami’s versatile female player, Paula, not only did courtesy running detail and hitting, but also came up with the league’s first double play in the second inning, deftly picking up the ball just short of second base and firing to the Tsunami first base.
Under rules agreed upon by the league’s steering committee made up of all the team coaches, and Patt, all games will be played at Isenberg Park on Fridays with the first game starting at 9 a.m. and the second game starting at 10:30 a.m.
Games will be played with 65-feet base paths, and female players at least 55 years old are allowed. The female players are also permitted to run for players born in 1952, or earlier.
“You gotta wish me a ‘Happy Birthday,’ said Ernie Domingo, playing for the WharFrats with Peter Rayno as its coach. “I made 80 years old, Thursday. I can hit, but I’m going to ask for a pinch-runner.”
Courtesy runners are permitted in the home plate area while the hitter is at-bat.
“This is just the first game so the rules are still being worked out,” said Wes Kaui, a half-opened container of Po’s Kitchen cone sushi, and a yet-to-be opened box lunch sitting next to the announcer’s microphone. “Please bear with us.”
Patt said the background for the 70s division is at least 10 years of pick-up games, and a lot of talk.
“We gotta have teams, said Dwight Fujii,” Patt said. “We can’t start anything without teams.”
Patt said he doesn’t know if there are other 70s leagues in Hawai‘i.
“O‘ahu has some teams, and I don’t know if other islands have any teams,” Patt said. “But, once they see us going, I’m sure others will start forming teams, too.”
JC Crouch, waiting in order for his Tsunami at-bat, said, “It’s just another Friday event to keep track of.”
Domingo added, “No worry, I’m going to lunch at Kukui Grove as soon as I’m done playing.”
Source: The Garden Island