Congratulations to the team from Hawaii for winning the 2018 Little League World Series. Unfortunately, teams from the Lowcountry are unlikely to share such an honor.
The last team from the Lowcountry to play in the Little League World Series was from North Charleston in 1949. In 1955, 61 white Little Leagues in South Carolina refused to play Charleston’s all-black Cannon Street YMCA All Stars Little League team and later abandoned Little League and signed up with what became Dixie Youth Baseball.
The ramification of the establishment of Dixie Youth Baseball, along with the funding from municipal recreation departments, still affects Little League Baseball affiliations in the Lowcountry. As I’ve learned many times when I have raised this issue with rec departments, it doesn’t matter what the kids want.
In the spring of 1955, I left Charleston to join my father in Honolulu, Hawaii, at Hickam Air Force Base. It was my first exposure to Little League Baseball. The next year, I joined the Hickam Air force Base Little League Baseball program. Several things about Hawaii’s winning team resonate with me.
The city and state they represent were dealing at the time with a hurricane, though hurricanes are usually more of a threat to the Lowcountry. The home run-hitting star of the team, Mana Lau Kong, has the same last name as my third-grade teacher, Ms. Edna Kong. Might they be related? The winning pitcher, Ka’olu Holt, has the same last name as I do.
My son Lawrence Holt played on the first Little League team from Charleston in 39 years. Lawrence was born on Aug. 26, 1981, 37 years to the day before Hawaii earned its victory; he died on Dec. 26, 1999, from the same type of cancer that killed Sen. John McCain on Aug. 26. Sen. McCain’s final statement urged us to “Put aside tribal rivalries and focus on what unites us.”
The Little League World Series is one of those things that unites us; it’s more than just a sport. I wish more Lowcountry young people could experience it.
Augustus J. Holt