Merv Yoshimoto knows baseball. As a coach, Yoshimoto led the Pearl City Little League (11-12) All Stars to the Championship game of 1988 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. As the General Manager for the West Oahu Canefires and North Shore Honu of the Hawaii Winter Baseball League, he played an integral role in building the professional skills of future Major League Baseball stars.
Most recently, Yoshimoto has been elevated from Hawaii Little League District 7 Assistant Administrator to District Administrator after being elected by the 8 league presidents.
We sat down for a quick chat before the Little League District 7 All Star Tournament for 9-10 year olds recently played at Central Oahu Regional Park.
Q: How many years have you been actively involved with youth baseball in Pearl City?
A: “Since my oldest son Chad started playing in 1981. Started as a team manager for 9 years, then board of directors member for 4 years, president for 6 years and currently assistant district administrator for the district 7 board of directors which PC is a member of. I was recently elected to be district
administrator from October 1, 2009.”
Q: Can you share the experience and what it meant to represent Hawaii and the United States in the 1988 Little League World Series Championship game?
A: “It was an honor and a very exciting and rewarding experience for the community, coaching staff,
parents, supporters and especially for the players. Although we did not win the title game (losing to Taiwan) we won the United States Championship. That alone was an accomplishment. We were very fortunate that our players were very humble, displayed outstanding sportsmanship and represented Hawaii, USA and PC with pride. It is a memory that will last a life time and it was the first step for the majority of the players for they went on to compete in 3 more Little League world series in the Junior, Senior and Big League divisions.”
Q: You have served as a coach, Pearl City Little League president, and recently been elected Little League District Administrator for the next 3 years.
Has the current downturn in the economy affected the way the league is run today?
A: “The present economy affects everyone in some way. If a league should win the state championship, it would not surprise me if a few players would not be able to travel with the team to the mainland because of the costs involved. Please support their fundraising efforts.”
Q: Which MLB prospects made the most impact on you while playing in the Hawaii
Winter Baseball League?
A: “I am prejudice towards the local players because of their relationships with the local youths, “wanna do good in front of the home fans” attitude and they tend to increase the attendance. However, having a Joba Chamberlain making a lot of noise with the NY Yankees doesn’t hurt the league either.”
Q: Were you given opportunities to give back to the community through Hawaii
A: “Most definitely. HWB sponsored several food drives at the PC Shopping Center to support the
Women’s Domestic Abuse Shelter. We plan to continue this annually. We also had a Ronald
McDonald House “Night at the Park” at Hans L’Orange Field. The unfortunate children and their
families were our guests of honor at the game. Prior to the game, they were permitted on the field to
meet and have their photos taken with the players. During the game they were treated to a meal and
refreshments in our very special VIP booth and each child was presented with a teddy bear and some
other goodies. It was an event that took their minds away from the hospital environment. HWB also
raised over $1,100 selling the Ronald McDonald House fundraising coupon books during our games
at Hans L’Orange Field.
HWB also sponsored the Positive Coaching Alliance workshops for numerous youth leagues throughout
the State. HWB also sponsored a youth baseball tournament and several clinics at the CORP. The
players visited several schools and appeared at several charitable organization’s fundraising and
Q: Your experience at Hawaii Winter Baseball has allowed you the opportunity to work with
former Hawaii youth baseball players that have made the grade to professional baseball.
Most recent MLB draft – Carlton Tanabe and Bryson Namba are PCLL graduates.
How important is the support for youth baseball programs that build
fundamental baseball and team work skills?
A: “It is very important that an organization like HWB supports the youth baseball programs with
clinics and workshops. The primary focus should be on the coaches and parents. That is why the Positive Coaching Alliance workshops are a success. It is geared towards the adults and is endorsed by many successful sports personalities and Little League Baseball. Teach the adults right and we will have less kids quitting sports at such a young age. “
Q: Are there any special individuals and organizations that have helped play a
role in the success of Pearl City Little League and Hawaii Winter Baseball?
- My wife Joyce for encouraging and supporting me in my efforts.
- PCLL: The Pearl City Umpires Association for providing volunteer umpires at the PCLL games.
Their efforts save the league and parents thousands of dollars annually.
- The players, volunteer coaches, board members, parents, businesses and community.
- HWB: Duane and Hervey Kurisu for their vision of having professional baseball in Hawaii.
“Catch the Dream”
- Walter Komatsubara, Zen Abe, Collin Tanabe and Family, Kyle Nakata and Family,
Gary Nakamoto, Bob Kim, Roy Furoyama, Roy/Gail Yoshida.
These individuals were supporters or members of PCLL who contributed immensely behind the
scenes towards the efforts of HWB.
Keith Nakamura and Grace Pacific for their contributions in the upgrading of Hans L’Orange
Field. Keith is also currently coaching in the PCLL and is the husband of PCLL’s president Liane
PCLL and HWB have a very integral relationship.