I’m not normally one to strike up random conversation in a new destination. But since I had the chance to play some ball in the Pacific, it was almost obligatory.
“Do y’all need an extra glove in the outfield?” I asked across a chain link fence to a guy who looked to be the coach of a youth team trotting off the field.
It turns out the team was just wrapping up a practice, but the coach was happy to indulge me in a few minutes of conversation. I’m sure it’s not typical two Caucasian tourists stroll up to offer their baseball services on the lesser-visited island of Molokai, 22 miles east of Oahu.
I had just explained to my friend Chris that I have an unwritten bucket list goal of playing some form of baseball in all 50 states, so he was happy to accompany me on a whimsical jaunt to Molokai’s baseball park.
The sun-kissed, sun-glassed coach was Mike McCutcheon, born in Honolulu, who played professionally in the Arizona Diamondbacks system in his late teens and early twenties. He returned to Hawaii when it became apparent his professional career would not yield substantial fruits.
McCutcheon’s son packed up his equipment and seemed itching to get home as I picked his father’s brain for the few minutes he was happy to allow. The rest of his teammates were long-scattered.
Before Mike left with his son, I did have a particular question that had been on my mind for our few days in Molokai.
“Is the Mike Victorino running for mayor related to Shane?”
The Maui County mayoral race was in full swing, and I couldn’t help but assume the leading candidate, whose signs lined the roads, was related to the two-time World Series Champion “Flyin’ Hawaiian.”
McCutcheon confirmed my suspicion. “Yep, that’s his father.”
Hawaii is far from it all. A five hour flight from the American west coast, it’s not closer to any other population center. As such, it’s a true melting pot of Asian and Polynesian cultures.
And while it’s produced some professional baseball players, my experience on Molokai is about as much baseball viewing as you can find in the Aloha State. So if you’re looking to get away from it all, check out the map up top for Hawaiian recommendations from my friends born and raised in this tropical archipelago.