Published November 7, 2011
Baseball in Maui
Hey Columbus Sports Fans!!
For the first time in awhile, there wasn’t a whole lot of pressure playing baseball this past summer. After being released by the Toronto Blue Jays organization in the spring, I was asked by former major league all-star Garry Templeton to play for his team in Maui, Hawaii. As you could imagine, it didn’t take me very long to give him an affirmative reply.
From early May until late August, I played in Kahalui, Maui for Na Koa Ikaika (Strong Warriors) in the North American Baseball League. Yes, it was an unbelievable experience and it is as gorgeous as people say it is. As far as baseball goes, it was a very interesting season to say the least.
The first question people usually ask me is, “Did you have a lot of time to actually enjoy the island?” My answer is that we made time to enjoy the island. Just like in MLB, we played pretty much everyday. We would have to be at the field by 2:30PM everyday, so if we were going to explore, we had to get up early and do it. Our team had days off here and there, but they always seemed to be on away trips. Whoever set the schedule obviously didn’t think about giving us any time to actually enjoy the island.
I discovered quickly that there are significant differences between “affiliated baseball” (leagues and teams connected with MLB), and independent baseball. Not only are there major financial issues with independent teams, but the communication and organization are very suspect at times. What people have to remember is that independent teams are supported solely by investors, vendors, and fans. They do not have a parent MLB affiliate to support them with financial issues. Therefore, if a team can’t bring in enough money to pay the people working for it, then it will ultimately go into bankruptcy and seize all operations. One team outside of Chicago actually ended up folding as an organization.
The most interesting part about this past season has to do with who we played against. Some of the former MLB players on the Yuma Scorpions consisted of Jose Canseco, his brother Ozzie Canseco, Tony Phillips, Joey Gathright, and Willie Aybar. The former major league MVP is still attempting to play after his name was pretty much blacklisted from MLB. He could very well still be “juicing” because he looks like he should be a defensive end in the NFL. Joey Gathright ended up getting a September invite to the big leagues for the Boston Red Sox. We can all assume that he wasn't the sole reason for the Red Sox collapse in the last few weeks of the season. Tony Phillips, 52 (yes, 52 years old) was probably the best hitter on their team. I'll admit that in the two games that I faced him, he managed to get a couple hard hits off me. If you want to know how I pitched against each of these guys feel free to ask. I'll be honest.
As I've said before, the coolest thing about playing baseball is establishing relationships with people from all over the world, while getting to travel to places all over the world. I wouldn't trade this experience or the people I met for anything. I especially want to thank my new family, the Maddela's for everything they did for me.
Thanks for reading!!
3 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Playing baseball while in paradise...you could have told me I was in heaven right there and I would have believe it :)
Hey Dan. What a beautiful place to play baseball. Maui is our favorite Hawaiian Island. I really enjoy your articles!