ON THIS DATE: John Bush helps prep baseball begin on Kauai

The seeds of KIF baseball were planted early. 

On this day in 1913, John Bush‘s Koloa team hosted Eleele School for a game and lost 12-6 in front of ‘a large and appreciative’ crowd.

Principal Morse of Eleele joined the traveling party and tried to set up a rematch. That game didn’t occur until June, with Koloa winning 10-8 on the same grounds.

“No, I did not get up at one o’clock in the morning and practice any special curve throwing,” Bush said. “Nor were my bats Kahuna-ed. Our boys simply played ball, hence the victory.”

Bush then went on to challenge any other school, home and away, especially a Hanapepe school that had its principal challenge the winner before the game. Before Bush retired in 1920, the wheels for a high school league on the island were realized. Bush was probably introduced to the game in 1889 when he arrived in Hawaii to become the headmaster at Iolani. He served in that post until 1895, when he took a job as principal at Kilauea School on Kauai. He was also his town’s postmaster.

Bush died in 1929 just two months after his wife expired. He is buried at Nuuanu Cemetary, where fellow baseball pioneer Alexander Joy Cartwright rests. Cartwright is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame for his contributions as ‘father of baseball’ and Bush has just as much claim to being the father of prep baseball on Kauai. He was there when it began.

Another big boost to prep baseball on Kauai came when the Fourth of July rolled around in 1913. Lihue hosted a doubleheader against an Oahu team made up largely of Punahou students. Kauai’s student lineup was Baldwin at catcher, Hitchcock pitching, Fassoth manning first base, Lovell at second, Ahana at short, Wishard playing third, Makanani in left, Takechi in center and Fernandes in right.

The Koloa team was slated for the second game with John Akana leading off and playing left field, Pacheco at third, Bill Kerr at shortstop, Girvin at first base, Makanani at second, Sam Kai pitching and hitting sixth, Fernandes in center field, Fassoth in right and Sanborn behind the plate with Sato, Wood and Costa available to sub.

Oahu beat Kauai 10-3 in the first game but Koloa avenged the loss in the second, 9-8 in 10 innings.

By 1915, five years before Bush retired, schoolboys had a league of their own consisting of teams from Kekaha, Waimea, Kauai, Kapaa, Makaweli, Eleele, Koloa and Lihue. Baseball had been long established on the island, but it was reserved mainly for town teams. In 1913, The Garden Island newspaper proudly opined that a law banning Sunday baseball should be struck down because it would “be considered a direct slap at the most popular sport known in the islands.’

The rules for that initial circuit were simple enough. Bush may have even helped write them:

1. Players must be bona fide members of the school represented.
2. Games must be played at the place and the time designated on the schedule. Teams may change their dates by mutual agreement of both squads as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rest of the schedule.
3. Games must be played according to Spalding’s Official Baseball Rules with appeals heard at the end of the season.
4. A series of return games shall follow the first series.
5. Forfeited games shall count as won for whom the forfeit is made. 
6. A championship pennant will be awarded to the team that wins the highest number of games. The Mrs. Isenberg prize will be awarded to the winner, but it must be won twice for permanent possession.


  1. George Fernandes April 2, 2020 6:10 am

    To Writer: Can you tell me Fernandes first name.

  2. Jerry Campany April 2, 2020 9:40 am

    It is just an educated guess, but I am thinking it is Johnnie. He was the premier sprinter in the territory at the time but had two other brothers who were involved in athletics at that time so it could have been one of them. His name is spelled three different ways in the span of a month, check your email.

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