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The Hawaii Trip - Planning and results

After several years of casual talk about the possibility of the Kids and Kubs making a trip to play a Japanese team, the event finally came to fruition. The original thought was to have teams made up of veterans of World War II in the South Pacific and to have the game played in Japan. The final plan evolved from efforts to get veteran players, find financing, select a location, and find an available playing field. In November of 2007 the details were set. The teams included players who may not have served in the South Pacific in World War II, the games were played in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the dates were December 18th and 19th, 2007. Financing was arranged by the promoters of the Japanese team. The Kids and Kubs left St. Petersburg, Florida, on December 17, 2007, using the services of AAA Travel Agency. They stayed in Honolulu at the Kaiulani Hotel, along with the Japanese team. A Japanese television company under the leadership of Sho Ishida of New York City accompanied the Kids and Kubs and documented the entire trip.

If you would like to see other beautiful pictures of the trip, please select 'Hawaii Trip' in the Photo Gallery or click on this link: 

       Some players meet when the idea of a trip to Hawaii first came up. Here we see John Gist, Sho Ishida,

                                  Tom Panibianco, Ed Holmes, Winchell Smith, and Irv Abelson.

This is a picture of the original prospective K & K players who are veterans of WW II in the South Pacific. Included in the picture are Sho Ishida, Mr. Yoshida, and Mitsuru Okoso.

Seated left to right in the front row are Ed Holmes, Menno DiLiberto, Bob Warsaw, Mike Hungo, and Irv Abelson. Seated in the second row are Larry Williows (hidden), Pete Murphy, Fred Cardella, Walt Pawley, and Maynard Saugstad. Standing from left to right are Tom Panebianco, John Gist, Winchell Smith, Sho Ishida, Mr. Yoshida, Mitsuru Okoso, Andy Devine and Hal Fisher.

In the end, those players making the trip were: Irv Abelson, John Gist, Jim Archey, Mike Hungo, Bert Clearwater, Andy Devine, Jose Merced, Pete Murphy, Tom Panebianco, Walt Pawley, Gordy Scargle, Winchell Smith, Karl Sommer, and Larry Willows. Those in the picture not making the trip are Ed Holmes, Bob Warsaw, Menno DiLiberto, Ha l Fisher, and Maynard Saugstad. Pete Murphy captained the team. Fred Cardella and Sho Ishida accompanied the team but did not play. Harvey Musser. who helped originate the idea of the games, fell ill and could not go with the team. Gordy Scargle replaced hin in the group.

Sho's TV company documented the trip from beginning to end. The same is true of the St. Petersburg Times which published an early article on the subject. 

The Tampa Tribune published an article by Steve Kornacki on December 4, 2007, telling of the Kids and Kubs trip to Hawaii and the need for financial help. There were good pictures in the paper, but they are not shown on the Internet with the article.

Several years ago when interest in the proposed game was increasing, the Japanese men behind the project came to visit the Kids and Kubs. In the picture above on the left are Sho Ishida, Mitsuru Okoso, and Mr. Yoshida, an administrative assistant. Sho Ishida is a TV producer in New York City and he came here several years ago and made a documentary film of the Kids and Kubs which was widely shown in Japan. That sparked an interest in his former and long-lost schoolmate, Mitsuru Okoso, now a prominent businessman in Japan and the former winner of Japan's equivilent of the Heisman Trophy! It was the work of Mr. Okoso which pressed his nation to field a team to play the Kids and Kubs, to arrange for a location and field of play, and to arrange for financing the entire project.

This photograph is one of several sent to us on a disk by the Japanese. These are the men who played the Kids and Kubs in Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 18 and 19, 2007. We do not know their names or ages or skills. Most, but not all, are veterans of World War II. It was a very rewarding experience for all who participated in the games on both sides.

On the day our team left for Hawaii, a second article appeared in the St. Pete Times. The reporter followed the team to Honolulu and sent pictures and other articles to the Times.


The entire project came off without a hitch and was a resounding success for both sides. The team arrived back at Tampa airport to the cheers of hundreds of waiting passengers in the terminal.

The Kids and Kubs team that went to Hawaii in 2007 did a dance on the Japanese and Hawaiian teams, winning both contests in Honolulu. Led by the hitting of José Merced and Gordy Scargle, our team won the game against the Japanese team 14 to 2, after previously beating the Honolulu team.

The entire trip was a great success in many respects. Originally the idea of an international game was Harvey Musser’s, but illness forced him to remain at home. The arrangements made by the Japanese promoters were very well planned and carried out with games, banquets, and visits to memorable spots. Great friendship was expressed between the players on both teams, and the publicity was overwhelming. The St. Petersburg Times had an article and front page photograph in the City Edition on 12/21/07.

A non-playing member who accompanied the team to Hawaii was Fred Cardella. He took lots of pictures and you can see many of them as a slide show at:

           We salute those who participated in the trip for their fine performance. The honors go to Winchell Smith, Andy Devine, Jim Archey, Walt Pawley, Mike Hungo, Karl Sommer, Bert Clearwater, John Gist, Irv Abelson, Pete Murphy, Tom Panebianco, Larry Willows, José Merced, Gordy Scargle, Fred Cardella, and George Favre.    Way to go, guys!

~ ~ ~ ~


September 4, 1926 - December 21, 2007

 It is with deep regret that the death of Karl Sommer on Friday night, December 21, 2007,

is reported. Karl had just returned from Hawaii after playing with the Kids and Kubs in

softball games against Japanese and Hawaiian teams. He had thoroughly enjoyed the trip

and games and was feeling fine and at ease. He was felled by a massive heart attack and

died shortly after. He was 81 years old.

Karl Sommer was from Rochester, New York. He served in the United States Navy in

World War II and in the Korean War. His professional life was two-fold: He was a

superb salesman and worked for GTE Yellow Pages for many years, and he was a very

capable sign painter and continued in this work part time up to the present. It was he who

designed and painted the Kids and Kubs large banner which accompanied the club to

Hawaii. See below.

Mr. Sommer joined the Kids and Kubs softball club in 2002 and was known as a good

outfielder and strong hitter. His play aided in the win over the Japanese in Hawaii. Karl

was extremely active and is sorely missed by all the players and his many friends.

A memorial service was held early in 2008 with the team attending in a body to respect

a valued member of the Kids and Kubs.

On Christmas day the St. Petersburg Times published a beautiful article with pictures

of Karl Sommer titled "He had a blast."

A memorial service was held at the Northeast Presbyterian Church in Shore Acres in

St. Petersburg, Florida, on Thursday, January 3, 2008. The sanctuary was filled by

about 400 friends and relatives. The Kids and Kubs attended the service in a body.

Everyone joined in singing our National Anthem at the end of the service and then the

50 members of the softball club shouted in unison "PLAY BALL". It was a very

unusual and moving moment.