The Hotel Hana

Just surfing before stepping out for the day when I came across this interesting little nugget in a travel piece about Hana, Hawaii in the San Francisco Chronicle:

At the end of World War II, San Francisco industrialist Paul Fagan built the first-ever Hawaiian hotel outside Waikiki. He could hardly have chosen a more obscure location: It had been only 20 years since Hana, on the island of Maui, was linked to the outside world by a rough dirt road, and it would be almost two decades more before it was paved.

To get publicity for his venture, he enlisted the help of the San Francisco Seals baseball team, which he also owned. He brought the team to Hana for spring training and invited along a boatload of sportswriters who could be counted upon to churn out feature stories about “heavenly Hana” for readers back on the mainland.

“The place beggars description,” wrote Harry Borba in the old San Francisco Examiner in February 1947. “The Seals should pay for the privilege of training in such indescribably beautiful surroundings.”

I know it’s not practical in this day and age, but I’ve always been taken by the idea of teams just sort of disappearing to some warm and isolated locale for spring training. They used to do it all the time, spending a month or two doing deep knee bends or whatever in some far off town in the cotton fields somewhere, and then barnstorm their way back home for opening day. The spring training reports of the time read like dispatches from a far off land. I’m guessing they whetted the appetite of the bugs and cranks something fierce. And when the hometown nine made their first appearance in April, I imagine it truly was a dramatic unveiling.

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  1. Mark Runsvold said...

    My sister got married on Maui last summer. After the wedding some of the family traveled to Hana (the road to which has somewhere between 50 and 1000 hairpin curves, depending on who you ask) and spent a couple of nights.

    From their descriptions and photos and descriptions of photos, I gather that Hana isn’t really the kind of Hawaii that most people think of. For one thing, it’s on the windward side of the island, so there’s a whole lot more rain. Also, the beaches are much rockier. Why the Seals thought this an optimal Spring Training venue defies easy explanation.

  2. Jason Seaver said...

    I think this is something that still goes on in the Korean and (maybe?) Japanese leagues.  There were posts on East Windup Chronicle last year that commented on the relative financial health of various KBO teams based on the quality of resort town they were training in.

  3. Jim Casey said...

    I’ve been to Maui a couple of times, and tried driving to Hana both times. In each case I got a certain distance down the road and just turned back because it was so narrow, twisty, and dangerous. I’m sure it’s lovely, but I don’t expect to ever get back, and there are so many spectacular places on Maui, like Wailea, Haleakala, Lahaina, Kaanapali, etc. If you’ve never been, definitely go.

  4. Dave Fleming said...

    I was in Hana in January of this year. The road is utterly insane, especially on the drive out to Hana. And while the beaches in Hana are rocky, there are some perfect beaches further down the road, as you get close to Lindbergh’s grave.

    One of my favorite part of Maui, in part because it’s remote and quiet.

  5. Bob Timmermann said...

    The Japanese teams work out in places like Okinawa or even farther south in sort of a “pre-Spring Training.”

    They do about a month of conditioning before they go to a spring training camp which is a bit more like the MLB version.

    Except with a zillion more drills.

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