Hawaii Six-1

Just when you thought you would never have to endure another vintage, minor league set profile, here is yet another gas station sponsored set.  This time we are examining the 1961 Union Oil Hawaii Islanders. This set is special in that it chronicles the first year Hawaii was a member of the Pacific Coast League.

On December 17, 1960, a Salt Lake City businessman-Nick Morgan-purchased the bankrupt Sacramento Solons from the Pacific Coast League.  Mr. Morgan set up shop 2,500 miles from the nearest opponent at Honolulu Stadium. The park served as a home for amateur baseball and the University of Hawaii football team.  College bowl games were played at the facility as well.  Known as the “Termite Palace” the ramshackle, wooden structure would serve as the home of the Islanders until Aloha Stadium opened in 1976.

In 1961, Union Oil produced a total of 67 different cards for six of the eight PCL teams (Vancouver and Salt Lake did not participate).  Only the cards that corresponded with the team in a team’s area could be found at the Union 76 gas stations.  Due to smaller population areas, Hawaii and Spokane cards are considered short prints, making them more valuable and harder to come by.

The set features borderless, sepia-toned photos that measure 3” X 4”.  The backs have an advertisement for the radio station that held each club’s broadcast rights.  There are 10 Islanders in the set.

The 1961 Islanders were affiliated with the Kansas City Athletics. The bottom dwelling status of the parent club meant that the Hawaii team was not stocked with top prospects.  Only a handful of the players had success at the major league level.

Perhaps the best of the lot is Diego Segui, who forged a long and productive career. His card photo-along with all the other Islanders-was shot at Sicks’ Seattle Stadium.  Segui had no idea that eight years hence he would be playing in the big leagues with the Pilots in the same stadium.

Rachel Slider shows up in the set.  “Rac” never played in the majors, but he was a long-time coach with the Red Sox.

A player who did log major league time was Bill Werle. The hurler was in the Pirates starting rotation in 1949-50.

Another player with a big-time pedigree is Ray Jablonski, who played for the Cardinals, Reds, Giants and A’s. Ray’s poor defense served as a counterweight to his batting prowess, which derailed a promising career after a promising start.

This photo of Dave Thies features a clear look at an advertisement for the 1962 Century 21 Worlds Fair in Seattle.  This exposition put Seattle “on the map” and left the city with its signature structure, the Space Needle.

The Islanders wore colorful uniforms, which foreshadowed those adopted by Athletics owner Charlie Finley. The solid green vest uniforms were used on the road and accessorized with yellow undershirt sleeves and caps.  The club donned white vests at home with green undershirt sleeves and caps.  Perhaps, Finley remember these togs when he shocked the staid baseball world by decking out the A’s in green and gold for the 1963 season.

 PCL players would no longer get a paid, week-long vacation in paradise after the 1987 season.  Dwindling attendance and rising travel costs forced the Islanders’ relocation to Edmonton. But you can virtually feel the gentle breezes of paradise by collecting this set and downing a few mai tais. 

Aloha!

Author: Tim Jenkins

Sports memorablilia collector with Seattle teams emphasis. HOF autographs, baseball cards and much more. Teacher for over 30 years. Attended games at 35 different MLB parks.

10 thoughts on “Hawaii Six-1”

  1. I created a personal baseball game I used to play on my computer. One of my team names was the Honolulu Heroes. They won my World Series one year. Ten teams two leagues. I played 22 seasons and expanded twice.

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  2. Segui not only didn’t know he would end up back in Seattle eight years later, but he REALLY had no idea he’d be back there with a different team eight years after that! I believe that he’s the only person to play for both the Pilots and the Mariners, so the fact that he had a minor league issue that was photographed in Seattle is really a special find!

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    1. I came here to post exactly this.

      Also, if you were a radio DJ who did SAT prep on the side, then we used to work together.

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  3. Oh nice. My mom grew up in Hawaii and the Islanders were the only pro ball in town. Has been fun talking to her about guys she remembers (I’ll ask whenever I come across a 1960s card showing a player went through Honolulu). Now I’m wondering what other PCL issues might exist.

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  4. Honolulu Stadium was a few blocks away from my grandma’s house. Whenever we go to visit family, we always hit Waiola Shave Ice which is right next to where the stadium used to be. Sadly, I don’t ever remember attending one of their games when I was a kid. Wish I had though.

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  5. Memories memories. Harry Kalas was the radio announcer. His home run call was “… and it’s A-LOOOOOOOOOO-HA!

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  6. I grew up in Hawaii and was a huge Islanders fan in late 70’s and 80’s. I do believe that our Islanders moved to Colorado Springs, not Edmonton as you mentioned. It was hard to see our team leave. My only solace was that I believed that I was somehow on par with Brooklyn fans and how they lost the Dodgers (my MLB favorite team), and how I could empathize with having our hearts ripped out by losing our teams. My dad took us to the termite palace but I don’t really remember it. My first Islanders memory was from 1979 at Aloha Stadium, where I got a ball and got it autographed by a bunch of Islander and Portland Beaver players after the game.

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  7. Hot Dogs! Peanuts! Coke! Chips!

    I grew up in Kailua & Saturday was the day we’d go to town. Cruise Ala Moana shopping center, have dinner at Suehiros & if the Islanders were in town, the termite palace became our baby sitter while mom & dad went off to see a chambara movie at the Toho/Toyu/Kokusai theatre. This was mid-late sixties, I was 10-12 years old – this was my fortunate experience that cemented my lifelong love for baseball.

    Once inside, I would rarely sit still. I’d start behind home plate, then wander down to the dugout booths that put you down below field level. Then I’d cruise all the way around the stadium, check out the scoreboard. Someone did hit the $1000 puka yeah? While wandering around, the smell of boiling corn on the cob or S&S saimin would fill my nostrils and catch me if I had enough change. When the game ended, the field gates opened and I would run the bases.

    Ho, da memories!

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