Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ewa’s Pride Field – Historic Open Recreational Space and Baseball Field

Ewa’s Pride Field – Historic Open Recreational Space

 and Baseball Field

By John M. Bond - Save Ewa’s Pride Field from developers.

An Ewa Community Resource for Sports and Baseball since the 1940’s

Pride Field goes back as an historic open space recreational area to 1941, when contractors working on the construction of the airfield show it as a professional size hardball field with two softball fields.

PRIDE FOR EWA -- Ewa’s PRIDE in Historic 

65 Year Old Pride Field

"An 'Ewa Beach team went up there and won. They won every single game (in the Little League World Series and the regional in San Bernardino)," she said, her eyes rimmed with tears. "The Lord is with us."

"I told you they was going make 'em," said the 67-year-old father of West O'ahu's head coach as he folded his hands across his cane. "Never give up. Play hard, work hard. I feel very proud."

Not everyone in Ewa West Oahu knows that their favorite Little League baseball field
actually has a sports history going back sixty five years. Nor do many even know HOW
Pride Field got its name. For them, the field is just a very important little league baseball area
that the City of Honolulu maintains since the closing on Barbers Point in 1999.

Many today also probably don’t know that Pride Field was an active Navy MWR (Morale-Welfare-Recreation) baseball field from the 1950’s to 1999. Even top Oahu rodeo events were held there before the Barbers Point stables and rodeo arena were built in the 1960’s-70’s.

The field was actually named for Admiral Alfred M. Pride, a US Navy carrier commander of the Belleau Wood. Pride was a brilliant naval aviator highly regarded by Navy and Marine pilots.

Before the Navy was there it was a US Marine air station called MCAS Ewa. The area was actually designated for baseball in early 1941 when Ewa Field was under construction, but because of the start of WW-II on December 7, 1941, the field was used for anti-aircraft machineguns, then as a general physical training area, including sports.

It was not actually laid out formally as a baseball field until around 1943-44, when the US Marines had a team called Fleet Marine Force – Hawaii (FMF Hawaii) that played the other Oahu service teams with very big name major leaguers recruited into the military during the war. One of the big baseball legends who played there was Marine pilot Ted Williams.

Without a doubt, historic Pride Field must be saved from developers and placed on the National Historic Register for its illustrious 65 year history as an Ewa open space sports field- and remain in use for Ewa’s current and future Little Leaguers to use forever. This is about local community history and PRIDE FOR EWA.

Pride Field – Historic Open Recreational Space and Baseball Field

One cannot possibly over-estimate the importance of baseball in the 1940’s. Not only the national sport, it was avidly followed by nearly everyone in America. During WW-II people suspected of being enemy spies were often grilled on how well they knew team leagues and baseball player stats. This was because any TRUE American knew all these stats, dates and player histories. Hawaii during WW-II enjoyed an especially huge baseball following because many major league players were drafted into the military specifically to play baseball during the war for morale and public relations, and many wound up in the islands on military teams. Major national baseball stars could seen locally at Honolulu Stadium and major Army and Navy sports fields.

Pride Field goes back as an historic open space recreational area to 1941, when contractors working on the construction of the airfield show it as a professional size hardball field with two softball fields.

This location originally made sense as there was also a major Rec-Gym building and swimming pool planned nearby- but airfield operational needs required moving its location over to its present Pride Field location.

Once the war started, Ewa Field grew rapidly and became Marine Corps Air Station Ewa- a huge military base for Marine fighters, bombers and transports supporting the Pacific Island invasion campaigns.

MCAS Ewa also became the headquarters for Fleet Marine Force Pacific- which was the forerunner of today’s MARFORPAC headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith. Accordingly, there was a Fleet Marine Force baseball team which played the nearby Navy Barbers Point ―Pointers‖, as well as the other Pearl Harbor and Army teams from Schofield, Wheeler, etc.

Next to Baseball, Rodeo at MCAS Ewa was also a popular sport

A 1948 map of MCAS Ewa shows the Fleet Marine Force Pacific baseball field with a professional hardball diamond and a smaller softball diamond. The square fenced in area by the baseball diamond is likely a rodeo horse corral.

Rodeo was also a major popular national American attraction and this was also the case during the war when many rodeo stars also entered the military. One particular rodeo legend was Fritz Truan, a national bronc riding champion who was stationed in Hawaii as a Marine and participated in many local rodeo and military rodeo events. He very likely also participated in events at the Pride Field arena as well during 1943-44.

Fritz Truan was later killed in combat during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. The popularity of rodeo and horseback riding continued after the war and resulted in the establishment of the large rodeo and horse stable facilities at the MCAS Ewa WW-II aircraft revetments area, which has been recommended, in 1997, to become an historic district.

Baseball Legend Ted Williams played at MCAS Ewa Field

Baseball Legend Ted Williams – was a fighter pilot at MCAS Ewa in 1945 and played for the
Fleet Marine Force Pacific baseball team at what is today known as Pride Field. When the
Navy took over the Marine base they renamed all the roads and facilities, including the baseball field in honor of Admiral Pride.

Ted Williams was stationed at MCAS Ewa during the end of the war, flying Corsairs, in 1945.
Williams played for the MCAS Ewa team called Fleet Marine Force Pacific when the base
was still a huge WW-II base of Pacific operations. What became known as Pride Field was
a big professional-sized field then. After December 7, 1941, the field had anti-aircraft machine
guns installed into dug-in foxholes to protect the airfield. Later Army anti-aircraft units arrived
to guard Ewa Field and the baseball field went back to being a sports field.

MCAS EWA in 1948. The full sized baseball field is seen in the background, in this view taken
from the control tower. Note that there are full size hard ball and softball diamonds.

Pride Field name is established when Navy takes over former MCAS Ewa

PRIDE FIELD 14th Naval District Fast Pitch Leagues, 1970’s Pride baseball field is today maintained by the City and County of Oahu Parks Department under a license from Hunt Corp., which stated it’s eventual intention to remove the baseball field and commercially develop the site.

Built during WW-II, the field has seen continuous use in 65 years of history. Anti-aircraft machine gun positions were dug in around the playing field after the Pearl Harbor attack, and it was also used by the nearby Marine barracks for physical training and field day inspections of unit uniforms and equipment.

In 2005 the Ewa Beach baseball team won the Little League World Series. Today, developers want to bulldoze this historic Ewa West Oahu Community field.


August 11, 2010 “Trying To Save A Historic Ball Field”
By Senator Bob Hogue – Hawaii MidWeek

There’s an old ball field in Ewa that is suddenly much talked about. The field, now used by Little Leaguers, dates back to World War II when historian John Bond says legendary
Boston Red Sox star Ted Williams played there.

―Ted Williams was here at the end of the war, flying Corsairs,‖ Bond says. ―He played for different base teams around the country during his time as a pilot. He played for a team here called Fleet Marine Force Pacific in Ewa when the base was huge, massive in 1945. It was a big professional-sized field then.

The Ewa teams played their games at Pride Field, known as Mooring Mast Field in the WWII era. Several other major leaguers, including Joe DiMaggio and PeeWee Reese, were in different branches of the service then and played on other Oahu teams.

Williams, a Navy Marine pilot known by baseball fans as the Splendid Splinter, who was the last player to hit over .400 when he batted .406 in 1941, reportedly spent nearly all of the time when he wasn’t flying playing baseball. ―He was obsessed with baseball. He would have me pitch to him every chance he got,‖ wrote a former serviceman in a published account.

―There was no other field here (in Ewa),  he says. ―Back then, baseball was really big for everyone. Massive crowds came out to see these teams play. Major Leaguers like Williams were the rock stars of their day. Everybody would turn out to watch them.

One of those who watched the games was Theo ―Porky‖ Belic, now 80, who remembers when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7. ―They flew right over our camp and we saw them strafe the field. We saw all kinds of smoke. It made our hair stand up,  Belic recalls.

As a teenager, Belic remembers going to see U.S. servicemen play.

―We used to watch all the games, he says. ―They were really good.

Folks like Bond and others are concerned about the future of Pride Field. They’ve started a group that calls itself Save Ewa Field. The property was recently turned over by the Navy to Hunt Development Group, which leases the land with plans to eventually buy and develop parts of it.

He fears the Navy and Hunt Corporation could throw West Oahu Little League teams off historic 65-year-old Pride Field.

―Ted Williams was a legend when I was growing up,‖ he says. ―I want to point out that
the field was a key part of the history of the base here. It’s one of the oldest ball fields in
West Oahu. I just want to make people aware of that.

Historic 65 year old PRIDE Little League baseball field, where baseball legends like Ted Williams once played with other famous baseball players in WW-II military leagues. This is a major Little League Tournament field. The Ewa Beach team won the 1995 Little League World Series.

Hunt Corp has stated that their plan is to shutdown PRIDE FIELD and bulldoze this 65 year old community sports field.

The Ewa-West Oahu Community needs to preserve this open space sports fields that belongs on the State and National Register of Historic Places.


August 29, 2005 “Memea's heroic homer boosts Hawai'i pride”
By Rod Ohira and Peter Boylan Advertiser Staff Writers

The boys from 'Ewa Beach and Waipahu, all 11- and 12-year-olds, put a state on their collective shoulders yesterday and represented it with pride and grit. As Michael Memea nailed his game-winning homer in the bottom of the seventh and teammates waited at home plate to embrace him, thousands of people around O'ahu — and millions more watched worldwide — celebrated the wild victory.

"We all blue-collar workers," said Darwin Nazarino, a 28-year-old preschool teacher who was watching the game on TV at a party. "We love our sports, it gets us through. It (the victory) brings the community and the families together. It gives a little bit hope that wherever you from, whatever you do, if you work hard, it can happen."

Terry Memea, a first-grade teacher at Holomua Elementary School in 'Ewa and former professional hula dancer, said when her son hit the ball, "I sat down and cried. He was struggling for three games. I thought, 'OK, there's no outs and Vonn (Fe'ao) and Quentin (Guevara) are coming up so if he could just get on base.' When I heard it, I knew it was gone. The sound was so sweet."

Herbert Aliviado, left, and Kia Hale celebrate West O'ahu's victory in the Little League World Series at Aliviado's home in 'Ewa Beach. The win was especially sweet for Aliviado, the father of West O'ahu's head coach and grandfather of the team's first baseman.


Hawaii's Ewa Beach Wins Little League World Series

It has been a dream season for a bunch of boys who live and play baseball just a few miles from my home here on Oahu.

Hawaii is very proud of her boys from Ewa Beach. The coaches and parents have been "class acts" and have shown the world that the word "aloha" can be used in the same sentence as "World Champions!"

West Oahu Team Wins Little League World Series

July 26, 2007 Little League Majors State Tournament final
By Kyle Sakamoto Honolulu Advertiser

Games Played on Historic Pride Field

It came down to power yesterday for Waipi'o in the Little League Majors State Tournament championship game.

The Majors (ages 11-12) is the oldest Little League division, starting in 1939 with its first World Series in 1947.

In 2005, West O'ahu became the first team from Hawai'i to win the World Series.

"Seeing these kids swing the bat, with the wind and the fence (205 feet) being so close ... on our team we have about eight guys (who can hit homer runs)," Waipi'o coach Timo Donahue said.

"Being there once already it gave us an outlook on what it's like to be out there; living conditions and so forth, what to expect," Timo Donahue said.

Navy Barbers Point Golf Course Intended As Commemoration Of MCAS Ewa Field History

Alfred Melville Pride, Pioneer Naval aviator and Captain of USS Belleau Wood, WW-II "Devil Dog" Aircraft Carrier