John Matias, a Major League Baseball player and longtime high school coach on Oahu, after starring at Farrington High School, died Tuesday after a long illness.
Matias, 75, died peacefully at home on Oahu, according to his son, John Matias Jr., a former University of Hawaii baseball standout. His father’s death had nothing to do with the COVID-19 virus, he said.
Matias is still remembered for one of the greatest performances in Hawaii high school sports history, hitting home runs in all four plate appearances for Farrington in a 1962 state tournament game at Honolulu Stadium. He also played basketball and football.
Matias and his brother, Bob, were signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 1963. John was traded to the White Sox, and made it to the majors with Chicago in 1970. He played in 58 games in his only big-league season, batting .188 in 58 games.
After a season with the Kansas City Royals AAA team and one with the Hawaii Islanders, Matias continued his pro career in Mexico.
After his playing career, he was a longtime coach at Pearl City High and Damien Memorial schools.
“I don’t think anyone had a bad thing to say about Coach Matias,” said Aaron Teruya, a second baseman on his team at Pearl City who went on to play college baseball. “He brought out the best in his players by always being supportive and cared for you. You felt like you belonged. You felt like a part of his family. You felt great playing for him and it’s an honor to say to say Coach Matias was my coach.”