Former players, managers, franchise owners and supporters of the Asahi baseball team gathered at Waialae Country Club on Nov. 16 for a 110th anniversary reunion and celebration. The event was organized by Lillian Yajima, whose father, Steere Noda, founded the Asahi team in 1905.
Noda was just 13 years old when he organized the Asahi team. He played first baseman and was its premier hitter. Noda also served as the team’s captain and general manager. The Asahi won the Hawaii League Championship many times and served as “goodwill ambassadors” by playing in the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan. They team officially disbanded in the mid-1970s.
Among the guests who attended the reunion were Consul General Yasushi Misawa and his wife Yoko; Judge James Burns, who represented his late father, Gov. John A. Burns, who became the franchise owner during the turbulent World War II years; Lois Tanaka, daughter of franchise owner Angel Maehara and wife of player Gary Tanaka; Lillian Yonamine, wife of longtime Asahi supporter Masa Yonamine; and Salvatore “Sal” Recca, an Asahi catcher and the oldest player in attendance.
Following lunch and a time for “talk story” and reminiscing, guests viewed a video honoring Asahi’s baseball history. Former player Eddie Hayashi introduced each Asahi player and shared humorous anecdotes and color commentaries on each.
The event ended with an impromptu hula performance of “Lovely Hula Hands” by Yajima and a tejime (rhythmic hand clapping to close special events) by Consul General Misawa.