Yonamine donates $200,000 to HHSAA
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Wes Nakama
As a member of Japan's Baseball Hall of Fame, Maui native Wally Yonamine is enshrined forever as one of the country's most important figures in that sport.
Last night, Yonamine secured the future of the Hawai'i High School Athletic Association Baseball Championships as well with an unprecedented donation of $200,000 to create an endowment that will fund the state tournament every year. The donation was presented to HHSAA executive director Keith Amemiya at a Nissan Hall of Honor/HHSAA Foundation banquet at the Sheraton Waikiki.
"Coming from a small hick town (Olowalu) on Maui, I really feel Hawai'i did a lot for me, so I'm glad I can be one of those guys who can give back to Hawai'i," said Yonamine, who starred in football, basketball and baseball at Lahainaluna before transferring to Farrington in 1944. "Financially, my family is doing well, so we thought it was a good idea to give (the HHSAA) something they can work with, not just a one- or two-year thing. The other thing is, I really like Keith — he's such a nice guy, and I want to be in back of him 100 percent."
Amemiya said the donation will be administered by the HHSAA Foundation and be used strictly to generate funds annually for the baseball state tournament. Yonamine's foundation has been the title sponsor for the past 10 baseball state tournaments.
"This is huge for the HHSAA," Amemiya said. "It's unprecedented, and we're grateful to Mr. Yonamine and his family for their tremendous support."
Yonamine, 80, briefly played football for the San Francisco 49ers before embarking on a long playing and coaching career in Japan professional baseball.
Reach Wes Nakama at firstname.lastname@example.org.