WAILEA - Brendan Sagara has been waiting for this opportunity all of his life.
The veteran independent-league pitching coach was named the third manager in Na Koa Ikaika Maui's two-year-plus history during a news conference at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui on Friday.
The 36-year-old graduate of Leilehua High School and the University of Hawaii-Hilo has been a finalist for "seven or eight" managerial jobs in the last couple of years, but couldn't pass on the opportunity to be the skipper of the only professional baseball team in his home state.
Brendan Sagara, shown at a news conference on Friday at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, was Na Koa Ikaika Maui’s pitching coach in 2010.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Sagara was Na Koa's pitching coach under Cory Snyder in the team's inaugural season of 2010. He guided a staff that had the Golden Baseball League's top ERA, with the league's individual leader and runner-up - Wes Etheridge, who signed with the Toronto Blue Jays organization, and Donald Brandt.
Maui has played in two leagues, and had two ownership groups, the latter of which is down to only Bob Young after he was part of a trio of owners to start 2011. Na Koa averaged only 320 fans at Maehara Stadium last year and did not play their final 27 scheduled games - the final week of the North American League schedule was wiped out for financial reasons.
"Like anybody else, I was concerned about a few things," said Sagara, who is succeeding Garry Templeton. "I was talking to Dan (Partney, Na Koa's general manager) for a couple of months, and it was a couple of months. It took some time to talk things over and make sure that all the T's were crossed and I's were dotted the way they were supposed to be. When I come in now, I have complete faith that things are going to be better and I hope to be a big part of that."
Sagara, currently a scout for the Atlanta Braves, has had the same role with the Washington Nationals.
"I can't tell you how excited I am," said Partney, who has lived on Maui since 2007.
"I have great passion for the game, I have a great passion for Maui and my local neighbors, friends and family. I am the type of guy who listens to what the community wants and the community out there told me - and I went out there and asked them, 'What can we do to make this a successful deal?' They all told me, 'Make this a community deal,' and that is what I've done. Hiring Brendan is a great start of that."
Sagara and Partney said their first goal is to sign as many local players as possible.
Sagara said, "In 2010, I think at one point we had 12 of the 22 players on our roster were from Hawaii and it is probably going to be something similar to that."
Sagara said his team will be Maui's team.
"Playing at Hawaii-Hilo in college we had 'Hawaii' across our chests," he said. "And we will have 'Maui' across our jersey. You have to have pride in that and that has to mean something to you to play here. It is a lot different than playing for a lot of other minor league clubs across the country."
Also joining the club as a consultant is Chris Osgood, who has lived on Maui on and off since 1984 and has extensive radio background with the Braves and Houston Astros on the major league level.
Osgood praised the changes Young has made.
"They have gotten a lot of the wrong people off the bus, a lot of the right people on the bus," Osgood said.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org