Babe Ruth league to provide players for Ehime event
By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer
Two youth baseball teams that will participate in a goodwill tournament this November in Ehime prefecture, Japan, will be selected from the Babe Ruth fall league.
Ehime prefecture's assembly has invited two teams to play in the tournament as a gesture of friendship and to foster relations between Ehime and Hawai'i. The offer was made to Seiji Naya, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
But Naya said he knows little about youth baseball and he asked Hawai'i Winter League's Duane Kurisu for help. Kurisu, in turn, asked his brother Hervy Kurisu, head of the Babe Ruth league, to help pick the teams.
The Ehime legislative assembly has offered to cover expenses for the players and coaches.
Ehime is home to the Uwajima Fisheries High School, which lost nine of its students and teachers in Hawai'i waters when their training vessel was rammed by the submarine USS Greeneville on Feb. 9, 2001. The Ehime Maru sank nine miles south of Diamond Head.
Hervy Kurisu said last night that the league isn't sure how it will pick the teams in the 11-12 and 13-15 age divisions. He said Hawai'i's representatives will either be the fall league's division champions or teams of all-stars.
Either way, Kurisu said, it will be a tough decision for the league's board to make.
"We would really have to screen the kids no matter which way we go because they're representing Hawai'i the kids and the coaches," Kurisu said. "Preferably we could have representatives from across the state, but that's almost impossible to do because of the time and the fact that we don't really know all of the kids."
The Babe Ruth fall league runs until November and the Ehime tournament is scheduled for Nov. 29-Dec. 2. Last year, the fall league had about 10 teams in each of the six age divisions.
Babe Ruth, which is not affiliated with the Little League or PONY league, has been in Hawai'i since the 1970s. Kurisu said he is aware that the other leagues may feel left out of the selection process.
"I'm not going to worry about it because how does one select a team like that under these conditions? There's got to be a way," he said.