MAY 2, 1939: Iolani’s Lefty Higuchi shows his mettle

It might have been Matsuo “Lefty” Higuchi‘s first hero moment, but it certainly wasn’t his last.

On this day in 1939, Higuchi doubled and scored a run in the 11th inning to lead Iolani to a 3-2 upset of previously unbeaten Saint Louis.

The surprise shook up the standings but Saint Louis ended up taking the ILH anyway. Higuchi struck out 17 Mid-Pacific batters three days after beating the Crusaders. After graduation, Higuchi pitched travel ball in Japan, China and Cuba before the United States was pulled into World War II.

Higuchi immediately joined the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team and took the unit to a base championship at Fort Shelby. He took a break from pitching to fight in the Italian campaign and by March of 1946 the war hero was back home leading a Hawaii All-Star team over the San Francisco Seals that included two-time batting champion Ferris Fain.

Higuchi kept pitching until 1962 and died in 1977 at the age of 55.


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