Over the years, wherever there was a football game, there was Rodney Higa.
Higa was a former baseball player from Baldwin who kept statistics at War Memorial Stadium for decades.
“(Then-MIL executive director) Steve Kim asked me to help. I programmed my laptop to do football stats. After that, I said, I was tired,” Higa said.
As an engineer with the County of Maui, he also had a special project at the island’s premier baseball facility, Ichiro “Iron” Maehara Stadium.
“They said if we don’t design a press box, we would lose the state tournament,” said Higa, now retired. “I wanted it upstairs but it would’ve been too much expensive.”
The facility is a wondrous place, timeless and immaculate thanks to a skilled, large crew employed by the County. The design of the press box, which is directly behind home plate, is spacious enough to accommodate scorekeepers and media. It is basic, simple, yet outstanding in its comfort level, i.e. air-conditioning. Temperatures at Iron Maehara, located just a few hundred yards from the shore, can hit 90 degrees at mid-day.
Morning sunshine could have been a problem, too, with the light reflecting off the press box window behind home plate. Higa, who coached at Baldwin briefly under Glen Oura in the 1970s, used his experience and savvy to solve the problem.
“The windows are tilted to make sure there’s no glare for players on the field,” he said. “They gave me a week to finish the design.”
That was in the early 2000s.
“I drew it up on ACAD,” he noted.
Retired life meant weekly bowling and assistant coaching at King Kekaulike. Now done coaching, Higa plans to help out at softball games on the island’s main venue, Patsy T. Mink Field.
“They asked me to help out because I know a lot of the rules,” he said.
Perhaps his lesser-known skill: making “flying saucers.” For years, Higa made these empanada-style homemade hot pockets filled with beef, corn and cheese for his players. The carmelized crust is the result of a gas grill. He still makes them from time to time. A version of this is made and sold at the county fair, he added, but it’s not quite the same.