Hawaii sports luminaries gather to honor the father of baseball

Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan

By Kristine Uyeno - bio | email

NUUANU (KHNL) - It's been a sad week for local sports fans, with the passing of Les Keiter and Harry Kalas.

But the week is ending with a sort of celebration.

A group of people gathered today on Oahu, like they do every year, to pay tribute to the "father of baseball."

"When you think about 90 feet between bases, 60 feet, 6 inches between home plate and the mound, and the rules that accompany that layout, it's perfect," said Don Robbs, announcer with ESPN Radio 1420.

Baseball has been around since the 1800s. And Congress recognizes Alexander Cartwright as the inventor of the modern game.

"He was the one, that set it upon the course that it took," said Jim Leahey, announcer for K5. "And he is buried in Nuuanu Cemetery and he's in the Hall of Fame."

So every year, on this day, a group gathers near his grave to celebrate his life. Today, would've been his 189th birthday.

"He's one of those folk heroes, that the lower 48, doesn't even know about," said Alex Cartwright, his great-great-grandson.

"I mean, when you find out he started the Honolulu Fire Department and invented baseball, either one of those things would make you a great man," said Jim Donovan, athletic director for the University of Hawaii. "The fact that he did those and others is pretty amazing."

"I wouldn't miss this. This kind of recharges my batteries and reminds me how important baseball is not just to me, but to the community," said Robbs.

The Cartwright Cup High School Championship Baseball Trophy is named after him, as well as Cartwright Field in Honolulu. Although some residents may not know who he is, Cartwright is a big part of this town and of America's favorite pastime.

"I think it's something we should be proud of that the man who invented baseball is right here," said Donovan.