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Memorial Day 2005

Back on the island of Kauai and the rest of the Hawaiian islands, sports is a huge thing to people. Particularly in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, and especially baseball. Because the geographical distance from the mainland makes it impossible for Hawaii to host a professional traveling team, the local fans of the game to this day are forced to choose and adopt their favorite Major League ballclub as their emotional own, which is usually either the Giants or the Dodgers.

This did not, however, keep the folks from participating in our favorite pastime first-hand back in the good old days. This is before Hawaii joined the Union, mind you. Inter-island play thrived, and the Albao family of boys were something of legend.

From left to right: Uncle Eddie (OF), Uncle Willie (SS), Uncle Henry (C), and my Grampa and poker teacher, Cecil (3B). 1946. Kauai.

Four Brothers

We lost the last of them, my Uncle Eddie, in September of 2003. As I look at this classic photo, I can’t help but imagine them all turning around, walking to the edge of the outfield behind them, and disappearing into the sugar cane field.

Happy Memorial Day.

9 comments… add one
  • jaced June 3, 2005, 4:53 pm

    This just in from my old man,

    He just chatted with his big brother, my Uncle Sonny, and they discussed some of the details regarding this photograph. Sonny remembers them well. It was 1946. Sonny would’ve been five years old at the time, my dad was approaching his Terrible Twos. Uncle Eddie had just gotten out of the service after the conclusion of WWII, and was just beginning to date the young Mary Ponce, who eventually became my Auntie Mary. She was sitting in the stands, Eddie was in the dugout. The two courters were sending written notes to each other, delivered by the five year old Sonny back and forth from the stands and dugout.

    An interesting note regarding the team:

    The Negro League Champs that year, the Cincinnati Crescents, came to Hawaii and played eight games throughout the islands. The Crescents won seven of the games, losing only one. Guess who beat ’em? Yep. The Albao boys and team Kawaihao from Lihue.

    One of the greatest Negro players of all time played in that game: a gentleman named Luke Easter. After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, “Lucious” Luke Easter reached the MLB in 1949 at the age of 34 with the Indians, winning the American League Player Of The Year in 1951. The big left handed hitter has the unique distinction of hitting the longest homerun ever yoked out of Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, recorded @ 477 feet. Dead-center. It was his rookie year.

    Luke Easter Card

    Lucious Luke was killed by gunshot wounds in 1979 while working as a bank messenger.

    His stats, per the Baseball Almanac:

    Luke Easter
    “Luscious” Luke Easter

    Bats Left, Throws Right
    Weight 240 lb.

    Debut August 11, 1949
    Final Game May 4, 1954
    Born August 4, 1915 in Jonestown, MS
    Died March 29, 1979 in Euclid, OH

    One can only imagine what his numbers would have been had institutional racism not kept him from the Majors until the age of 34. Hats off to Lucious and all who took the field with him.

    Luke Easter Bust

  • Terri Miyoi June 3, 2005, 7:07 pm


    I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your “Memorial Day” tribute! It is so wonderful to imagine the Albao boys having the time of their lives together once again in the sugar cane fields… ;0)

    Love & Miss you

  • Pudge June 4, 2005, 10:24 am

    I miss my dad (Eddie), cousins, uncles, and aunts terribly. I can’t help but feel pride in the high level of class within our roots. It’s what keeps me out of jail… :-)

  • jaced June 4, 2005, 2:25 pm

    What I wouldn’t give to have ten more minutes of playing catch with Grampa and Uncle Eddie. Ten more minutes.

    Then we’d round up the others and get a game of poker going that night until the sun came up. With pennies.

    Blood. That’s what Grampa called a flush in poker. “Blood”. I still use the term today, and always will.

  • Debbie Wuerfel June 4, 2005, 3:50 pm

    What a special Memorial!!! I would also like ten more minutes (or more). I wish my children could’ve met those special men! I do tell them stories, but it just isn’t the same. Taylor (9) pitches in a softball league and I know she would’ve enjoyed watching and learning a thing or two from them. Thank you for sharing your special talents. We loved it! Our best to the family!

    Hugs and kisses from the South

  • Cecile June 5, 2005, 2:13 am

    Thank you for keeping our memories fresh. That is one of my most favorite pictures of all time…Memories like this bridge the gap between the generations…they live forever!

    PS –Love to all. I am at Aunty Charlots having a slumber party…we had some wine and that’s why we sent the message above 2x…

    PPS==miss you all

  • Aunty Charlot June 5, 2005, 2:35 am

    Hey Nephew!!!

    Thank you for “memorializing” Grandpa and his brothers…its a haunting picture, isn’t it? Grandma was here viewing it together with me and I wanted to share her thoughts, though she isn’t too sure of some of her memories about this…she said she was at that game with the Crescents and Grandpa’s team. She couldnt remember the team name (whether it was a Filipino team or the All-Stars) but she remembers for sure that Grandpa made a hit in the game. Also she couldnt remember whether this happened at this particular game or not, but I thought it was hilarious so I had to share it: During half time, the local Kauaians, got their fastest horse to race against one of the fastest guys on the Crescent team during half time activities. GUESS WHO WON?!

    Thank you Jace…love you.

  • mom June 5, 2005, 3:03 pm

    dad just showed me this and it is wonderful to think what all of you share-(your cousins etc.) i.e your heritage, family pride, memories, and more. i am thankful that you and all my children can be part of such a wonderful family. not to mention the accumulated sense of humor in all these people. it is non-stop laughs. i can’t help but think of the term “family jewels,” and indeed they are!

    we have this profoundly special photograph in our guest room. there are no words to describe the sensations, the memories, the the sentiments that are aroused. it is a picture of life.

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