The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: Bringing Pro Baseball to the Islands
HONOLULU Magazine emerged from predecessor “Paradise of the Pacific,” which began in 1888, fulfilling a commission by King Kalākaua. That makes this the oldest continuously published magazine west of the Mississippi with an enviable archive worth diving into each month. Here’s a look back at June 1961.
What could bring together two Honolulu men, one known as the father of modern American shipbuilding and the other as the Chinese Rockefeller? Baseball.
As the Sacramento Solons struggled toward the end of the Pacific Coast League’s 1960 season, Salt Lake City businessmen came to the Islands to make “the most daring move in all of Organized Baseball history,” Paradise says: “moving a pro club 2,000 miles into the Pacific.”
Henry J. Kaiser “showed interest and discussed the possibility of building a stadium in the Hawaii Kai area which would seat 40,000 to 50,000 spectators.” When that couldn’t be done in time for opening day in April, Chinn Ho became involved, as the president of the Honolulu Stadium board of directors. New team owner Nick Morgan Jr. signed a lease agreement with Honolulu Stadium, and the Hawai‘i Islanders team was born.
Morgan “believes eventually the Pacific COAST League will become a PACIFIC League and teams from Japan and the Philippines will be among its expanded membership,” Paradise says, but it’s since expanded the other way, into Tennessee, Texas, even Canada. The Hawai‘i Islanders moved to the Mainland in 1988 and became known as the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, but not before winning the PCL title in 1975 and 1976.
Pro baseball returned to the Islands with the Hawai‘i Winter Baseball league from 1993 to 1997 and then again from 2006 to 2008.
Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at shop.honolulumagazine.com.
Find more photos from Honolulu’s past every Thursday on Instagram @honolulumag.