Forty Years Ago Today…

Forty Years Ago Today…

Once again, we hop into our Time Machine to examine some of the sports headlines and events back in the day. This time around, we look back exactly 40 years ago – April 19, 1980. The University of Hawaii baseball team was in the midst of a milestone season; a new bowl game was being proposed to the NCAA; and a future World Series champion was building his game in the prep ranks. Take a look:

◊ The UH baseball swept a home doubleheader against WAC rival San Diego State. The 6-5 and 7-4 victories vaulted Les Murakami’s Rainbows to the top of the conference’s south division. Rick Bass, Eric Tokunaga and Kevin Williams provided the big bats on this night. The visiting team was led by some guy named Tony Gwynn, whose home run in the nightcap kept the Aztecs within striking distance. The ‘Bows would go on to make its only College World Series appearance, advancing to the championship game before falling to Arizona.

◊ A crowd of 2,537 fans enjoyed plenty of fireworks at Aloha Stadium. First, they saw the Hawaii Islanders blast three home runs in a decisive 7-2 win over the Tacoma Tigers. Then they were treated to a fireshows Show after the game. Future MLB pitcher Juan Eichelberger picked up the win for the Islanders. At the time, the team was skippered by Doug Rader, who would go on to manage the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and California Angels.

◊ UH Athletic Director Ray Nagel led a three-man delegation to California to try to persuade the NCAA to add a new college postseason bowl game: the Pineapple Bowl. At the time, Honolulu was already the host to two thriving football spectacles: the Hula Bowl and NFL Pro Bowl. The delegation’s efforts helped plant the seeds for the Aloha Bowl, which made its debut on Christmas Day 1982.

◊ Kaiser H.S. pitching phenom Sid Fernandez struck out 16 batters to lead the Cougars to a 6-2 win over Waipahu, leading his school to its first-ever OIA championship. Fernandez, of course, would go on to have a lengthy career in the majors, making two All-Star Game appearances and helping the New York Mets capture the 1986 World Series title.

◊ In Carlsbad, California, Tom Watson shot an even-par 72 but still increased his lead to five strokes in the Tournament of Champions event. Watson would go on to win the tournament, thus becoming the first person to post back-to-back Tournament of Champions victories since Arnold Palmer. (Palmer won the event open 1965 and 1966.) The event is now called the Sentry Tournament of Champions and is played every January at the Kapalua Resort on the island of Maui.

#          #          #