There is currently no affiliated professional baseball in Hawaii – but there used to be – as the Pacific Coast League had an island outpost based in Honolulu from 1961 through 1987. The AAA Hawaii Islanders saw the likes of Bobby Valentine, Tony Gwynn and Barry Bonds pass through their ranks over the years.
The team played their games at Honolulu Stadium from 1961-1975; massive Aloha Stadium from 1976-1987; and also played at Les Murakami Field in 1986 and 1987.
My mother-in-law’s husband was stationed with the Navy in Honolulu in the early 1970s and has great memories of games at Honolulu Stadium and having one too many Primo beers on one too many nights. Honolulu Stadium was a wooden stadium built in the 1920s and he described it, lovingly, as a “rickety old bandbox.” In fact, he recalled a particular game in which he got finger broken when a much larger fan fell on him while they were both trying to catch a home run ball. (He still has the surgical scar to remind him of the ball that got away!)
Honolulu stadium was located in a residential neighborhood at the corner of King and Isenberg Streets. The stadium was demolished and replaced with a park. This plaque marks the site:
The move to Aloha Stadium in 1976 saw the team take on a new game atmosphere. Many of the fans who lived in the nearby neighborhood did not continue to attend games in the same numbers and, according to my mother-in-law’s husband, Aloha Stadium – with a seating capacity of 50,000 – felt cavernous even when there was a decent crowd for a AAA baseball game. Aloha Stadium was designed to be movable so that it could be configured for baseball or football. In 2007, the mechanisms were locked in place for football and there is current talk that the stadium has just about reached the end of its useful life as structural issues are making it expensive to maintain.
The Islanders also played at Les Murakami Field in on the University of Hawaii campus. Named for the legendary Rainbows’ baseball coach, the facility was much better suited for a AAA franchise but by the late 1980s, attendance was not sufficient to support the team financially any longer. The team, an affiliate of the White Sox, moved operations to Colorado Springs for the 1988 season.
Hawaii has since hosted a winter league affiliated with Major League Baseball and there is a fledgling independent professional baseball league in the formative stages but there are no current plans for affiliated baseball to return to paradise.