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Further ReviewSports

Easton’s Old Yeller is the stick that stirred Hawaii’s drink

Madame, may I suggest a nice 2005 Yellow Stealth, from the fine Easton collection?

Powerful and brawny, yet refined, with abundant tones of the sweet aftertaste of success. Never, never woody.

He’s got only three left, and he doesn’t know how much more life they’ve got. These have served well, and he wants more.

Bob Coolen hunts for bats. Specifically, the Easton Yellow Stealth that his Hawaii softball team used to crush an NCAA record 158 home runs on its way to a fifth-place finish in the Women’s College World Series last week.

"We call it Yellow, or we call it the Golden Bat," Coolen said.

Composite softball bats tend to get better with age, more flexible and lively. Coolen and the Wahine have had these Old Yellers for five years.

He has a contract with Easton in which UH gets 24 new bats every year. But ’05 was a vintage crop that produced the current Wahine gamers.

"I believe they have a short shelf life. We’ll save them for next spring," said Coolen, adding that the team will begin working in some new bats during fall practice.

EVENTUALLY THE yellows will fracture and be de-commissioned. Then one should go to the Softball Hall of Fame and another be made into a monument of some kind to put at the entrance of the Wahine softball locker room, assuming there is one by then. The third? A perpetual trophy for the team’s HR queen each year.

After all, these are the sticks Jenna Rodriguez used to shock Alabama, that Traci Yoshikawa clubbed Missouri with in Oklahoma City, that Kelly Majam used to belt a nation-leading 30 round trippers.

In addition to becoming the stuff of UH legend, the yellows are as rare – and as valuable – as Hawaiian postage stamps.

"You don’t see too much of the yellow anymore; you see the purple and white," Coolen said. "I have a friend with four in the original wrappers. Those are gold."

Coolen saw a yellow Stealth on eBay once. "It was all scratched up, and it was impossible to tell how much life it had left," he said. "But the bid was up to $400."

A mint condition 2005 Easton Yellow Stealth, still in its package, goes for $600, Coolen said. When they first hit the market the retail price was $299. The value could go higher as word gets around it is the weapon of choice of the record-setting Wahine.

Or, it could plummet faster than an investment with Bernie Madoff.

IF THE NCAA and softball’s governing body decide composite bats are too lively, that too many homers are being hit, that the game has become too much fun, well, the 2005 Easton Yellow Stealth becomes just a useless relic, no longer a commodity for bleacher reachers to covet.

It seems the softball aristocracy has had enough with this crazy idea of adding excitement and new fans (and young players) to its sport. It’s OK when Arizona holds the record, but not upstart Hawaii.

Some cite safety. By all means, be proactive; but it’s not the bats that need to be changed; it’s the protective equipment: Require all batters, pitchers and corner infielders to wear helmets with face masks. Some already do.

"I don’t believe the safety issue exists at our level. At the high school level, yes, because you have blue-chip prospects playing with inexperienced kids," Coolen said.

"If you love all the 1-0, 2-0 games, yeah, change it. But that would be boring."

It’s enough to drive you batty.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.


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