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Off the News

For Thursday, March 3, 2011


Wally Yonamine, ahead of his time

In another era, Wally Yonamine would have been a celebrated pro athlete in his prime. Instead, as Star-Advertiser columnist Dave Reardon noted, in the bitter years just after World War II, "Americans hated him for being Japanese and Japanese hated him for being American."

Yonamine, who was born on Maui and died Monday at age 85, was the first Asian to play in the NFL and the first American to play pro baseball in Japan. He was the target of racial epithets while with the San Francisco 49ers and a cultural outcast in occupied Japan with the Yomiuri Giants.

Unbowed, Yonamine won over skeptics and changed attitudes with his go-for-broke hustle, tough play and humble demeanor -- traits those who knew him say came from the Olowalu roots he never forgot.

Huckabee slips on Obama's past

Mike Huckabee wandered off into La-La Land on Monday while trying to explain to a radio talk-show host why President Barack Obama moved a Winston Churchill bust out of the Oval Office. It was hatred of the British, said Huckabee -- who's been flirting with a run for the Oval Office himself -- a hatred born of his growing up in the former U.K. colony of Kenya. Huckabee's handlers tried to write that off as a mere slip, saying he meant Obama's Indonesia childhood. Right.

The fact is that Obama spent more of his youthful years in Hawaii than anywhere else. Of course, given that the Hawaii flag features a miniature Union Jack in its upper left corner, that Brit-hatred would be tough to explain.

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