WAILUKU - Dan Partney has only been on the job for a week and a half, but he knows he has to hit the ground running as the new vice president and general manager for Na Koa Ikaika Maui.
That will start with a booth at the Maui Fair this week where Gered Mochizuki, a Baldwin High School graduate and an All-Star in 2010 when he was third in the league in hitting (.384), will be signing autographs. The team will also be selling team merchandise, holding registration for a youth baseball clinic set for Jan. 7 and conducting a name-the-mascot contest.
Partney said Tuesday that despite hardships last season, the plan for Maui's independent professional baseball team is to go full steam ahead for the 2012 season. He said that Bob Young, one of three owners for the team in 2011, has taken on the role as sole owner.
Na Koa, in their second year of existence, did not play the final 27 games of their North American Baseball League season this year.
The final four home games were scrapped because the cash-strapped Lake County (Ill.) Fielders did not make a scheduled trip to play here Aug. 10-13, and after that Maui canceled its 23-game road trip with the NAL's approval, while the league cut down its season for all of its teams by a week to save on costs.
Partney is a general project superintendent for F&H Construction and has lived on Maui with his family of four since 2007 and in the state since 2003. He said he was at every game with his coffee business last season.
"(Young) came to me towards the end of the year and asked me what his whole plan and organization, how things were going, and I gave him my honest opinion," Partney said. "My honest opinion was that they need a local guy to run the team and a local businessman to run the team and here I am."
Partney said that 2011 manager Garry Templeton has an option to return to Maui next season and discussions are ongoing. Japanese female knuckleball pitcher Eri Yoshida, who ended up winning the last game Maui played, is set to be back on the roster in 2012.
Partney said he realizes there are doubters after two ownership groups have left unpaid bills and unkept promises in their wake. Bills from the 2011 season are being paid, Partney said.
One of those came when the team settled a lawsuit with broadcaster Bill Schindler after Schindler filed for $1,310 in small claims court.
"I would love to have Bill back, try to work something out - he is a baseball man," Partney said. "We know that there's been some situations in the past. That is why I am here, to mend some situations and move forward on a positive note."
The team was on the radio for 89 of 90 games in 2010 and the first 11 of 2011 before a dispute with Pacific Radio Group also went to court and the station was awarded more than $12,000 - a lesser amount was paid by the team to settle that lawsuit. Partney said the team also made good on a $5,000 charitable donation paid off to the Pacific Cancer Foundation recently.
The average attendance for the games this season was less than 400, or half of what is needed to break even, according the Partney.
"The first step is getting the trust of the local community back, number one," Partney said. "The trust of our local fans, number two, and getting ticket sales out there. One of my huge goals is to be on an e-ticket system."
The NAL website says teams in Long Beach and Orange County, Calif., and Tucson, Ariz., all former GBL teams, have been approved to play in the 2012 season, along with Omaha, Neb. Litigation issues hover over both Tucson and Omaha, however.
Partney, 39, acknowledged that the promises he is making have been heard before.
"You haven't heard them from a local, who lives here year-round, who has been living here year-round, year after year," he said.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org