The newspaper picture shows a former University of Hawaii baseball player congratulating another ex-Rainbow at home plate following a pinch-hit home run in a major league game.
How cool is that?
Actually, there are at least two that fit that description. I’ve seen both (the photos, not the actual home runs).
There was one in Saturday’s Star-Advertiser, from the Associated Press. It’s like a blast from an oxygen bar — a pick-me-up for UH fans amid all the lousy news about losing football and baseball teams and the basketball bickering and NCAA investigation and the broken budget.
Here’s a case where UH definitely succeeded in its most important job: preparing its students for productive careers in the work force.
Of course, Greg Garcia and Kolten Wong are outliers as far as natural talent goes … but they’re also examples of ridiculously solid work ethic. And baseball is the ultimate grinder game.
On Friday, Garcia brought shakas to St. Louis. Since this is Wong’s third season with the Cardinals, a lot of the Busch Stadium fans already knew what the thumb and pinky extended mean.
Garcia’s eighth-inning pinch-hit homer tied the game the Cards would eventually win, so it was huge.
Wong then contributed to the game-winning rally with a single up the middle in the 10th.
Some might be surprised that Garcia has made it to The Show. Watching him in college, I didn’t think of him as a lock, like many considered Wong. I don’t think anyone did.
But as a Rainbow, Garcia made major league defensive plays on a fairly regular basis. Even after he hit a robust .358 as a junior in 2010 (a point better than sophomore Wong), the question was always if he could hit.
So far, the answer is a resounding "yes." He is batting .556 in nine at-bats this season after going 2-for-14 in 14 games last year. That makes him a "lifetime" .304 hitter, but we shall see after a larger sample size and when he starts going up against pitchers a second time. But Garcia is, again, like Wong in that they are kings at making adjustments in a game where that is crucial.
I’m thinking he might be in for a long stay in the majors, and like many of you, can’t wait for the day when he starts at short and Wong at second for the Redbirds, just like they did at Manoa.
And the way things are going, the Cardinals look like a lock for the postseason, sporting the best record in Major League Baseball.
Oh, that other picture?
Here’s the caption from, July 25, 1989 in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"Glenn Braggs congratulated Joey Meyer, whose homer scored Terry Francona (right)."
Braggs, Meyer and pitcher Chuck Crim were teammates at UH, and played together for the Brewers. Former Hawaii Islanders skipper Tom Trebelhorn was their manager. Francona? He was the Arizona Wildcat most responsible for knocking the Rainbows out of the 1980 College World Series, when UH had two games to win one for the championship.
I was on the mainland as a college freshman then. A few months later, one of my best friends from high school, Carl Nishioka, joined me there. There’s no describing that wonderful feeling, even though we got each other into mischief nearly as much as we provided mutual support.
Still, I have to imagine that emotion factored exponentially to try to comprehend college teammates playing together in The Show.
The only thing better than living out your dream is doing so with an old friend or two sharing the experience.
Reach Dave Reardon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4783. His blog is at hawaiiwarriorworld.com/quick-reads.