HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gerald Oda has been with Honolulu Little League for 29 years, coaching youth baseball on the diamond at Kilauea District Park.
"This has always been the home field for our league," he said.
But as recently as a few days ago, that was in jeopardy.
Oda says that on February 19, a city supervisor for the park told him that original blueprints showed Kilauea’s field was designated only for players up to 10 years of age, so players aged 11 to 13 could no longer use it for their games.
He was shocked.
"This is the only Little League field in this entire area," he said.
Oda said it didn’t make sense. He coached the 2018 Little League World Series championship team, comprised of boys who had played on that field. The city dedicated it to them.
They were in the same age group as the players who would be affected by a ban.
"We're just trying to get it resolved so our kids and the community can play baseball here," he said.
Oda was told another issue was the foul balls that sometimes land in or on neighbors’ properties. He said he would raise funds to pay for a bigger backstop that would keep foul balls on the field.
In desperation, he wrote a letter to Mayor Kirk Caldwell asking for help.
“At least tell us what the situation is so that we can then solve it,” he said.
Today, Kilauea District Park’s director told Oda his players could use the diamond, but for fielding drills only. Batting practice wouldn’t be allowed, and neither would full ball games.
“Honolulu Little League may not be able to survive, because we need a field,” Oda said.
Hawaii News Now contacted Mayor Caldwell’s office and asked about the ban on games at the park. Caldwell said the city would address the foul ball concerns and that he would override the decision of his parks department.
Now, Honolulu Little League’s spring season can start in April with a place to play ball. Oda says he and the 140 players who were in limbo are thankful the Mayor went to bat for them.