Yesterday I posed several questions, including, “Where is American Samoa?” and “Do they play baseball there?” Today, I have answers.
American Samoa is a U.S. territory in the South Pacific Ocean. It is 2,600 miles from Hawaii. Pago Pago, American Samoa’s capital, is about a 5-hour flight from Honolulu. It’s 7,000 miles from Pago Pago to Washington, DC. In other words, American Samoa is really far away. The territory consists of five islands and two atolls covering a total land area of 77 square miles. The majority of the population of just over 54,000 lives on the island of Tutuila. According to Wikipedia, the major sports in American Samoa are cricket, baseball, and American football. In fact, 30 Samoans have played in the NFL and in 2010, 200 Samoans were playing Division I college football.
So what about baseball in American Samoa? American Samoa is a member of the Baseball Confederation of Oceania (BCO), which was formed in 1989. Of the 14 member nations of the BCO, American Samoa ranks fourth. (It is ranked 70th by the World Baseball Softball Confederation.) The American Samoa national baseball team was the runner-up in the Oceania Baseball Championship in 1999 and 2000. The team also won the silver medal at the Pacific Games in 1999 and 2003, and bronze in 2007
The American Samoa Baseball Association is the governing body for sport within the territory. The former president of the Association was Ben Solaita, brother of Tony Solaita, the only American Samoan to play Major League Baseball.
Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at the Solaita family and the MLB career of Tony Solaita.