PRESS RELEASE – Now we know what they will look like. Na Koa Ikaika Maui of the independent Golden Baseball League recently unveiled their uniforms and logo the team will sport when it begins play in May.
Team president Rick Berry designed the logo – a profile of a Hawaiian warrior’s head with battle helmet on – and the team’s uniforms that will include black, green and red tops with yellow lettering that will be combined with white or gray pants.
The home tops will say ”Koa” in small lettering above a much larger ”Ikaika.” The away jerseys will say ”Maui” large across the breast area. The away tops will sometimes also have the logo in front of the lettering.
The jerseys will have tapa piping down each side, a Hawaii state flag or team logo on the left sleeve shoulder, and a map of the islands on the right back shoulder.
The Rastafarian color combination of black, green, yellow, and red could make the jerseys a hot commodity.
”Since that is kind of under my umbrella, I better be excited about it and I am probably a little bit biased, but I think it is unbelievable,” Berry said. ”I think not only from the color schemes, but the design and application that we have come up with, I am very excited about it. I have shown it around to a few people.
”My kids are my own best critics – they don’t hesitate to tell you if it is good or bad. I have a 14-year-old boy who just thinks he is Mr. Fashion Guru and he has given both thumbs up and said, ‘Dad, you are right on there.’ So I think, to me, it is going to be something that will appeal not only to the locals, and I think the locals are going to be very excited about it, but it will also tie in with the tourists.
”I think we have done a great cross that is going to be well received by both groups.”
Merchandise may not be available until the openers – Na Koa starts the season May 21 at Victoria, British Columbia. The home opener is a doubleheader against Tijuana on June 8 at Maehara Stadium.
”The uniforms and hats are all cut and sew,” Berry said. ”I don’t do anything that is off the shelf, so it takes a little bit of time with production.”
Along with the uniform designs that he has been able to show to people around the island, the reception for the team has been large, according to Berry. Maui has not had a professional baseball team since the Maui Stingrays of the Hawaii Winter Baseball League went defunct in 1997 after a five-year run in which the Valley Isle team led the HWBL in attendance each of its seasons.
”It has been awesome, everybody I have talked to, I have popped in and the first thing out of their mouths is, ‘We can’t wait, we heard about it, we are excited about it,’ ” Berry said. ”People always remind me of back in the days of the Stingrays that they were very well supported and that this is a baseball community, so it has been very positive. People are excited about it and it is just a matter of us reaching out and getting that support back and getting things set up. I think the people here will support it.”
With three and a half months to go before they throw their first pitch in Canada, the team is fervently working on airline and hotel sponsorships at the moment. The home teams in the GBL, which spans from Tijuana, Mexico, to Edmonton, Alberta, are responsible to house their visitors.
”We are working very hard with a lot of the hotel people, we hope to have something done by (this) week in that area,” Berry said. ”Airlines, we’re still dragging a little bit, so we are hoping to have that …
”There is huge potential in an airline partner for us. Everybody in our league just can’t wait for Maui to get up and running, everybody from executives and front office people that want to come, to booster clubs. So not only will the airline be bringing the teams over, they will be bringing a big group of people that want to come over and see that. So, whoever that airline partner is, (it) will be a nice exposure for them and revenue obviously from all the other nine cities.”
Berry said both the hotel and airline partners are essential to the team’s existence.
”They go hand in hand,” he said. ”We have to have both of those things. We are responsible for housing the incoming teams and then they house us when we go there, but we have to have that hotel partner and then that airline partner, too, to make it feasible for us to be here.”
The bottom line for the new professional baseball team is simple.
”We are excited to be here, we love being here in Maui, we definitely appreciate the willingness, the enthusiasm and the excitement that has been here and the hospitality,” Berry said. ”We are just happy to be here and excited to get everything rolling.”