‘Iolani coach Benny Agbayani recalls MLB high point

Iolani outfielder Lexie Tilton (4) talked to head coach Benny Agbayani at first base during the third inning of an ILH softball game this season. Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser

‘Iolani softball coach Benny Agbayani and his staff spoke to the Raiders for about 20 minutes after their 9-3 loss to Punahou on Thursday.

Surely, Agbayani had a lot of insights to share with them after a stinging first defeat in the ILH season. After starring in baseball at Saint Louis and Hawaii Pacific, he played from 1998 to 2002 in the major leagues with the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox.

After the girls were dismissed from the meeting at first base, Agbayani said, “Punahou jumped ahead and they deserved to win. They were the better team today. Our girls have gotta come out and play seven innings, gotta play every pitch, every out, every at-bat. Win or lose, they still gotta come out there and compete. I think they’ve just gotta be themselves.”

After all, Agbayani went above and beyond what most people expected by making the majors. It’s that drive that he’s trying to teach the players.

Agbayani was asked about his top MLB moment, his lowest moment and his funniest moment.

He did a complete reversal on the low moment and it turned out to be his most insightful answer:

“You now what, I really didn’t have a worst moment, you know, because I had the time of my life playing baseball,” he said. “As a child that was my biggest dream — to become a professional baseball player. I think a lot of people didn’t think I would become one and I worked hard and I persevered. That’s what I’m trying to train the girls on because it is probably never going to come easy for them.”

At 3-1 and ranked No. 8 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Top 10, the Raiders have almost a full season to take on that kind of “want to” that he’s really looking for.

And that’s not to say he was super disappointed in the loss. He saw bright spots, including six good innings of pitching by his daughter Aleia Agbayani, who has a full ride to Cal. The other inning — the first — was a different story. That’s when she gave up two walks and it led to five runs. Not the kind of start any coach wants to see.

‘Iolani showed reslience by putting two runners on in the seventh with two out. But shortstop Ailana Agbayani, another of the coach’s daughters who the dad said is getting looks from many colleges, hit a long fly ball to left that was flagged down and caught by the Buffanblu’s Eri Mizuguchi to end it.

“They’re going to make their own career paths for themselves,” coach Agbayani said about Aleia and Ailana. “Hopefully, they succeed and become good.”

Coach Agbayani also recalled his most memorable and most funny moments.

“The brightest moment of my career was hitting a grand slam in Toyko to start off the 2000 season (the year the Mets wound up losing to the New York Yankees in the World Series, four games to one),” he said.

“The funniest was when I gave the ball to a kid in left field and then I grabbed it back from him and then I threw it in. Then I came back out and gave him a signed ball.”


  1. Hmmm? March 8, 2019 3:06 pm

    What about the other girls on the Iolani team?
    I believe their motto is “One Team”

  2. OIA March 9, 2019 2:20 pm

    That was the motto! Now it’s “one team! After ME!” 😂

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