West Baseball Team Preps For Japan Goodwill Games

Bolstered by a strong contingent of West Oahu athletes and families, the Niigata-Hawaii Goodwill Baseball Team is preparing to fly to Japan in July for some doubleheaders as well as cultural tours with its host teams.

But the community here can help out, too, by attending a fundraiser from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Rumours nightclub at the Ala Moana Hotel.

“We will have live music by Kai Malo’o, a silent auction, raffle, and a bake sale to defray expenses for the baseball tournament,” said Lisa Wond, a Pearl City mom whose son is on the team. “We are excited and looking forward to representing the state of Hawaii in July in Niigata, Japan.

“Two years ago they came here and beat us,”

Wond added with a laugh. “And the tsunami cancelled us going there last year.” Two Hawaii teams will go this time – the 13-15 boys and the 12 and under boys, and nearly all are from West Oahu.

Players on the 13-15 team are: Jaryn Bulseco, Lonn Okinaka and Tryzen Patricio of Campbell High School; Shannon Fermahin and Shae Ishimoto of Aiea High; Tyler Fujimoto, Nick Manago and Reyn Oumaye of Moanalua High; David Fujimoto of Aiea, Matt Reynolds of Waipahu, Casey Wond of Pearl City, Cody Takabuki of Kaimuki and Christian Jones of Kaneohe.

Presale tickets for Rumours, meanwhile, are $10, or $15 at the door. Also planned are light pupu and no-host cocktails for the over-21 crowd. Proceeds will cover expenses for omiyage and social exchanges. Tax-deductible donations also may be sent to Niigata Hawaii Goodwill Baseball, care of Cindy Ishimoto, 98-1711 Nahele St, Aiea, HI 96701. For details, call Wond at 222-2577.

The Niigata exchange was built on the success of the first Hawaii-Ehime Baseball Exchange tournament and unveiling of the memorial in Uwajima. More friendships have been forged between the Islands and Japan over the years since that tragic accident in waters off Oahu in 2001.

State Rep. Ken Ito established the link with Niigata Prefecture a few years ago, and this Hawaii baseball and cultural exchange was born. The inaugural tournament with Hawaii’s Niigata host will take place July 18-26. Niigata is the largest city off the Sea of Japan coast, about 160 miles north of Tokyo.