PONY League Honors Hilo Baseball Pros
Hundreds of young baseball players from East Hawai’i got a special treat when they took to the Keaukaha Park baseball field on Saturday for the grand opening of the Hilo PONY Baseball League season.
The league recognized three Big Island high school graduates that have gone on to compete at the professional level in Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball.
Kamehameha-Hawai’i graduate Kolten Wong, Waiakea High School alum Kean Wong, and Hilo High School grad Jodd Carter were recognized by the league for their contributions to the game and the impact they serve on youth hoping to one day follow in their footsteps.
“It’s big. They’re inspirations and role models for the kids,” said Craig Kawaguchi, Hilo PONY League President. “They show that dreams do come true through hard work, dedication, and commitment.”
About 46 teams and several hundred boys and girls are competing in the PONY league this year, participating in the Mustang, Bronco, Pony, and Colt/Palomino divisions.
Kolten Wong could not attend the event. He is currently with the St. Louis Cardinals at Spring Training. Wong just completed his first full season on the major league roster, hitting .259 with 12 home runs and 42 runs batted in.
Kean Wong, Kolten’s younger brother, just finished up an all-star season at Tampa Bay Rays Single-A affiliate Bowling Green. He was named a mid-season and post-season All-Star, hitting .306 with 24 runs batted in and 13 stolen bases.
“It was amazing. I felt really honored to have that happen to me,” said Kean Wong. “I hope they have a good season and I hope one day, they can be in our shoes and their younger brothers or my son can honor them.”
Carter, drafted last year by the Cleveland Indians, hit .291 with 17 runs batted in with the club’s Arizona Rookie League squad. The Indians were the champions of the league.
“It’s pretty awesome just being out there, giving back to the little kids, and showing them that anything is possible, Carter said. “It’s always one of those things in my mind that I like, just to see the look on their face when they see pro players and see them smile and get excited to get your autograph and take pictures with you. It’s pretty awesome.”
Carter and Kean Wong don’t yet know where they will be assigned to this year. Each club will make their decisions next month near the end of Spring Training.