WAILUKU --- Things are moving rapidly for the new Maui team that will begin play in the independent professional Golden Baseball League in four months.
Set to debut in May 2010 at Maehara Stadium, the Valley Isle nine will be managed by former major leaguer Cory Snyder. A news conference to officially announce the team, introduce Snyder and put forth additional details --- possibly including the name of the team --- has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Mayor's Conference Room.
''I am very excited --- I am excited for a lot of reasons,'' Snyder said Sunday afternoon. ''My GM has been coming here for a long time. I have been managing in the league for three years. I actually played at BYU and we played at (the University of Hawaii) a lot back then. I know there are some local players excited to get on my team. I am excited to come here and get a winner going here on Maui.''
Cory Snyder, who managed the St. George (Utah) Roadrunners of the Golden Baseball League for the last three seasons, is to be introduced as manager of the Maui team Tuesday.
Snyder broke into the majors with Cleveland in 1986 and spent five years with the Indians. He also played for the Chicago White Sox (1991), Toronto Blue Jays (1991), San Francisco Giants (1992) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1993-94).
In his nine-year career, Snyder finished with a batting average of .247, as well as 149 home runs and 488 RBIs.
He twice finished eighth in the American League in home runs, hitting 33 in 1987 and 26 in 1988.
Snyder also played on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team that won a silver medal in Los Angeles.
The Maui team is set to play 44 home games, with the season ending in August. Snyder said local players will have a chance to try out in early May.
''I will invite them all to spring training and they will have seven to 10 days to see if they can make the team,'' he said. ''We have some players from a couple of the other islands in the mix, too. I want to get four or five local kids because that is what it is all about. Maybe they got hurt or for some other reason never got the chance to play past high school. We are big in the community and we do a lot for the kids.''
Snyder said he has already talked to Baldwin High School graduate Gered Mochizuki, currently a minor leaguer in the New York Mets' organization. If that opportunity expires, Mochizuki would have a spot on the Maui roster.
''I talked to Gered and he said, 'Oh, I can't believe this is coming now,' '' Snyder said. ''I told him, 'You want to stay in affiliated baseball, stay where you are at. If something happens and you get released you have a place to come to.' ''
Snyder said the team is close to signing Aiea graduate Mark Okano, a 29-year-old outfielder who has played with several Golden League teams, and former UH-Hilo pitcher Brendan Sagara, who has minor league coaching experience, to be the team's pitching coach.
Snyder has been managing the St. George (Utah) Roadrunners of the Golden League for the last three seasons for the same ownership group. As in Utah, the Maui franchise will be looking for local staff members, including a general manager and two or three more front-office staffers. Seasonal hires will be made for concessions, tickets and other necessities.
''We are in the process of getting an office space, naming a GM and getting a (front-office staff) team together and getting going on January 1st,'' Snyder said. ''We are in this for the long haul. We don't just want to come here, be a fun team for two or three years and get out of town. ... We want to be here for the long-term.''
Rick Berry will be team president for both the Maui franchise and Roadrunners. Snyder said the Roadrunners are reorganizing financially to be ready for the 2010 season.
''He did the best job of any GM I have known and he is going to be president for both clubs,'' Snyder said of Berry. ''We will be opening an office on Maui. There's just a lot of good things going on.''
Snyder said Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares has been instrumental in helping the county land the franchise.
''The mayor and all her people have just been unbelievable,'' he said. ''The more I talk to them the more I am excited to get going. My goal now is to put together a team that can win in its first year.''
The plan is to play on Maui for two weeks at a time, with six-game series in a week against a single team. The team would then be on the Mainland for two weeks in a league that spreads from Calgary, Alberta, to Tijuana, Mexico.
''We will fly to Los Angeles and then find a bus and do minor league things like riding a bus,'' he said. ''At least we will get to fly over.''
Snyder said that the league's independent status might work better in Hawaii than being affiliated. The Hawaii Islanders were a Triple-A team in the Pacific Coast League from 1961 to 1988 on Oahu, and the Hawaii Winter Baseball League had the Maui Stingrays play at Maehara Stadium from 1993 to '97. Both are now defunct.
''I love baseball and I enjoy independent baseball,'' Snyder said. ''It takes everybody to make it work --- the county, sponsors, local sponsors and attendance. I want to bring a team here that Maui folks are supportive of --- 'This is our team' --- and they are going to come support them.
''I'm not too worried about it because in independent baseball there are no rules. I know the economy is tough, but there are a lot of things we can do to make it work here. In affiliated ball they come and go during the summer or winter. We want to make our affiliation with Maui all year-round. We will have people in our office year-round.''
Maui led the HWBL in attendance all five years of the Stingrays' existence.
''The fun thing about independent baseball is not just coming to watch a baseball game,'' Snyder said. ''It is the kids with a fun zone, a barbecue area, a really cool section to sit down and eat, a family area where you could picnic. That family area you could put a blanket out and just watch the game. I don't know many other sports where you can have a family barbecue and entertainment where the whole family can come out and enjoy themselves.''
Snyder said the team will use the locker rooms at War Memorial Stadium to dress. He said he wants to add at least 500 seats to the 1,500 already at Maehara --- bleachers on the right-field and left-field lines --- and that the field itself is top-notch already.
''I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it,'' he said. ''I wanted to make sure about what we were going to get. The surface is outstanding.''
Snyder and Berry will be on Maui until Wednesday and then at least two weeks per month until the season starts. CEO Michael Cummings will be on Maui until Jan. 6 and then will also return for at least two weeks every month.
''We want people to come in and watch a game and really enjoy themselves,'' Snyder said. ''That is what makes me and Rick Berry very excited. ... For me, May doesn't come quickly enough. We have got a lot to do in the next couple months.''
Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org