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Na Koa hosts Japanese team for two games next week

July 6, 2012 - Robert Collias
Na Koa Ikaika Maui independent league baseball team has explored all types of ways to make professional baseball work here — including financing the Hawaii Stars in Hilo this season — and another big step in pursuit of those goals will be a pair of exhibition games next week with the Ishikawa Million Stars at Maehara Stadium. Na Koa will play the same team in Japan in September after the conclusion of the regular North American Baseball League season.

Here is an early look at the press release that just landed in my in-box:

Na Koa Ikaika Maui Welcomes the Ishikawa Million Stars from Japan to Maui for an International Exhibition Series

Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii, July 6, 2012 – The Valley Isle’s only professional sports team, Na Koa Ikaika Maui, is honored to welcome the Ishikawa Million Stars of Japan to the island of Maui for an exciting International Exhibition Series. The series will be held at Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku on Tuesday July 10th and Wednesday July 11th, with Maui set to visit the Million Stars in Ishikawa in September.

Opening Ceremonies on Tuesday July 10th start at 4:45pm. First pitch is 5:35pm for both games. This historic event re-ignites a friendship (between Japan and Maui) that has been built on the mutual love of the game of baseball. That friendship began back with Maui Legend (Olowalu-born) Wally Yonamine moving to Japan (after spending time with the SF 49ers), starring with the Yomiuri Giants from 1951 to 1962. He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. It was continued in the 1990’s with Winter League Baseball.

The Ishikawa Million Stars is a Japanese semi-professional baseball team, established in 2007. They compete in the Baseball Challenge League (BCL), an independent professional league in Japan. The BCL is comprised of six (6) teams between two (2) divisions; the Hokuriku Division, which consists of teams from Ishikawa, Fukui and Toyama and the Shinetsu Division, consisting of teams from Niigata, Gunma and Nagano. Quite a few BCL Alumni have gone on to very successful careers in the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball), the highest level of baseball in Japan (quite similar to Major League Baseball in the United States).

This historic gathering will be the first time that independent pro teams from Japan and the US have played each other . It all began with a casual conversation between Eri Yoshida’s agent, Chase Yamauchi and Hawaii Baseball LLC’s C.O.O., David Andrus and has evolved into this series and has led to serious discussions about a potential Pacific Rim Professional Baseball League.

Bob Young, owner of Na Koa Ikaika Maui stated, “We are honored and humbled to have our friends from the Ishikawa Million Stars visit us for this historic two game exhibition series and are excited about the potential of a new League with our new friends. The explosion of talent and continued growth of independent pro baseball around the world warrants further dialogue about expanding our horizons in the near future."

Yoshida, the 20-year-old "Knuckle Princess" from Japan, is expected to start on the mound for Na Koa in Wednesday's game.

 
 

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