I have to admit, I did not know who Sean Manaea was before this past weekend. But once he threw his no-hitter, I needed to know more about him. There had to be an interesting back-story. As a sociologist, I was curious about his background.
So, as always, I did my research. Manaea was born in Valparaiso, Indiana, on February 1, 1992. He grew up in Indiana, attended Indiana State University, and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the first round of the 2013 draft. The Royals traded him to the Oakland Athletics in July 2015 and he made his major league debut with the A’s on April 29, 2016.
All in all, it’s a pretty normal back story.
This interesting thing about Manaea is that his heritage is Pacific Islander – Samoan, to be exact. His father, Faaloli Manaea was born in American Samoa and moved to Hawaii in his 20s. After serving in Vietnam, Faaloli was stationed in Indiana, where he ultimately settled, met Sean’s mom, Opal, and eventually one of their sons pitched a no-hitter on April 21, 2018.
Naturally, Sean Manaea’s Samoan roots got me wondering about baseball in American Samoa. I mean, how much does the average person know about American Samoa? Where is American Samoa? Do they play baseball there? Have any Samoan baseball players made it to the major leagues?
Since it’s almost Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and in celebration of Sean Manaea’s no-hitter, over the next few days we’ll take a look at American Samoa and baseball in that part of the world.