The University of Hawaii baseball program enjoyed the biggest turnout for its alumni game in decades. This used to be a huge event in the 1980s and early 1990s, but fell off in recent years especially after coach Les Murakami’s retirement.
But several of the players, including Chris Walz, Tommy Heffernan and Carl Furutani, took it upon themselves to reach out to as many alumni as they could find and bring them together.
“When you see that it’s fractured, there’s a chance to bring it back together,” Walz said. “I think the guys are committed to it now.”
The alumni team included former major leaguer Scott Karl, and probable future major leaguers Kolten Wong and Jon Hee.
Murakami spent some time in the alumni dugout. There was also a slow-pitch softball game for the older alumni.
The current Rainbows won the baseball game 6-1, but one of the biggest highlights was when Lance Belen, who is closing in on age 50, roped a line drive single. Belen did the same thing in the alumni game two years ago.
“Just lucky,” he said.
“That’s not luck,” said Howard Dashefsky. “His pulse rate is about 3-over-2, and he’s one of the best natural hitters in the program’s history. Him, Mario Monico and Greg Oniate.”