Joltin’ Joe Spiers Spurs The ’Bows
Wednesday - March 23, 2005
I could hardly believe my eyes the other day when I ran into my old buddy Fastball in downtown Honolulu.
Fastball, you look positively giddy, I said. What gives?
“I’m on a baseball high,” he replied, jumping into the air and clicking his heels. He looked like a leprechaun still celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
I haven’t seen you this excited for quite awhile, I said, giving him a pat on the back. It wouldn’t be the Rainbows, would it?
“They’re not just the Rainbows anymore,” he shouted. “They’re Joltin’ Joe and the Bows. Joe sets the table. Joe stirs ’em up. Joe makes everybody cra-a-a-a-a-zy.”
Fastball was dancing around the sidewalk like he thought he was Maury Wills or Lou Brock or Rickey Henderson on the basepaths.
I looked around to see if anyone else was witnessing the baseball pantomime.
“I mean Joe Spiers,” Fastball screamed with glee. “The freshman shortstop from Southern California. Number one. Oh, he’s No. 1 all right. No. 1 in the batting order, No. 1 to hit to all fields, No. 1 to get the green light to steal.”
Oh, that Joe, I said, smiling back at my baseball friend. Yeah, I’ve heard about him. Wasn’t he WAC Player of the Week against Florida State?
“Yeah, he went seven for 12 and stole seven bases, and we swept the ’Noles right out of the state. Great series sweep against one of the most feared baseball programs in the country. Joe’s the man,” Fastball said, punching his fist in the air.
I smiled. I can see why you and other fans like him so much, I said.
“Like him? We love him! You have no idea how good he is until you see him in person,” Fastball retorted, grabbing the collar of my shirt, and staring bug-eyed at my face. “Coach Trap calls him The Igniter,’ and he can ignite fire under the club like you haven’t seen around here in years. In one of the wins against Florida State, he singled to right, stole second base, stole third base, and then raced home on a wild pitch. He practically singlehandedly made things happen. You should have seen it. He was amazing!”
OK, OK, you and Joe have my undivided attention, I said, pulling away from the horse-collaring. Tell me more.
“He’s a natural,” Fastball said. His dad, Mike, is a scout for the Mariners. He was in town recently and says Joe was a star in high school in Moreno Valley, Calif., where he had a hitting streak of 46 straight games. That’s a California state record, and you know how many great players they’ve had there over the years.”
Wow, how’d Hawaii get him?
“The kid just loves it here. He got recruited by Arizona State, Texas and Miami, but turned them all down to come here.”
Sounds like it’s their big loss and Hawaii’s huge gain.
“That’s just the beginning,” Fastball said. He was doing his mock base-stealing act again on the sidewalk. “He can turn a game around just by his presence. Get this, he stole 18 bases in a row, the first 18 stolen base attempts he had as a Rainbow! When was the last time we had that kind of threat around here?”
It’s been a long time, I replied.
“Joe’s taking us to the Regionals,” Fastball said. “Coach Trap is going to let him loose on the WAC and Joe is going to take us on a ride like we haven’t had around here for a decade or more!”
Sounds like he’s the Chad Owens of the baseball team, I said.
“That’s a good analogy. I like that,” Fastball said, looking skyward with a mischievous grin on his face. “Joe Spiers gives to UH baseball what Chad Owens gave to the football Warriors. Similar flash and dash. Not necessarily great speed, but great instinct of when to turn that speed on.
“I’m off to spread the word,” he shouted, streaking down the street.
I’ll help you where I can, I said, but Fastball was off and running. I haven’t seen him so happy in years. Funny, I thought. In years — that rhymes with Spiers.
Looks like Joe’s got us all smiling with a hopeful outlook these days.
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