Tatsuno a Hall of Fame nominee
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Derek Tatsuno, the most storied player in University of Hawai'i baseball history, is among 46 nominees for the inaugural College Baseball Hall of Fame, according to The Associated Press.
"That's news to me," a surprised Tatsuno said yesterday.
The announcement of the Hall of Fame will be made today. Finalists will be announced April 26 with the induction ceremony set for July 4 in Lubbock, Texas, the site of the hall, according to the College Baseball Foundation Web site.
Tatsuno, whose blazing fastball brought prominence to Rainbow baseball when he played from 1977 to 1979, became the NCAA's first 20-game winner in 1979. The left-hander was named by Collegiate Baseball newspaper as its Co-Player of the Century and was a member of Baseball America magazine's All-Century Team. He also earned All-America honors in 1978 and 1979.
Tatsuno was 40-6 during his three seasons with UH. He came to UH after a stellar career at 'Aiea High School, where he lost just once in his prep career.
Tatsuno's jersey No. 16 is one of two numbers retired by UH baseball. Former coach Les Murakami's No. 11 is the other. Murakami was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2000. That hall is not associated with the college hall.
Tatsuno is among 22 former players nominated. There also are 12 former coaches and 12 former players from the pre-1947 era on the list of nominees, according to AP.
"It's flattering to be mentioned in the inaugural (group)," Tatsuno said. "But I'm sure there were a lot of players before my time (who should be nominated).
"I don't know what to say. It's kind of shocking. It's flattering."
Tatsuno left UH after his junior season to play in an industrial league in Japan, missing the Rainbows' 1980 journey to their only College World Series appearance. Hawai'i lost to Arizona in the championship. After 2 1/2 seasons in Japan, Tatsuno played in the U.S. minor leagues from 1982 to 1987, including a stint with the Hawaii Islanders in 1987.
The College Baseball Foundation, described as a charitable education organization, has spearheaded the effort for the hall. It is the same organization that established the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year award, which is given to the top collegiate player. Baldwin graduate Kurt Suzuki was the inaugural award winner in 2004 after leading Cal State Fullerton to the College World Series title.
The foundation's Web site said there are 80 voters divided into eight committees, which are made up of members from 10 different geographical regions. The Web site did not specify a percentage of vote needed to be inducted.
According to the foundation, players become eligible five years after their final collegiate season, but may not be an active professional player. The player must have completed at least one season at a four-year institution and have made an All-America team (post-1947) or an all-league team (pre-1947), or earned a verifiable national acclaim. A Veteran and Historical Committee can nominate pre-1947 era players.
For a coach to be eligible, he must have achieved 300 career wins or won at least 65 percent of his games. He also must not be an active player on a pro team's roster.
Accomplishments of nominees are from their collegiate careers only.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.