(WMC-TV) - The list of Hawaiians who have graced Major League Baseball diamonds is short. But, sooner rather than later, that list is sure to grow by one.
Kolten Wong is the Memphis Redbirds' second baseman, whose path to the big leagues was paved by his coach, who also happens to be his father.
At an early age, Kolten Wong's father, Kaha, made it clear...
"It was instilled in me as a little kid," explained Kolten. "My dad always told me never be satisfied where you're at."
It is a message that stuck with him, resonating so loud that even his teammates can hear it.
"He's so determined in everything he does, offensively, defensively," said Redbirds shortstop Greg Garcia. "He'll continue to work as hard as he can to get to be the best."
"I really look up to that. That's one thing I always do is I always try to get better," added Kolten, who says that his dad always made that line between father and coach very clear. "When we stepped onto the baseball field, he told me before every time, before we would start a season that, you know, "When we got on that baseball field, I'm your coach, I'm not going to be that father to you,'" said Kolten.
Kolten understood, knowing that his dad and coach would always have his best interest at heart.
"I really respected that because it allowed me to really play the game and not relax, thinking I could do whatever I want with my dad being the coach," he said.
Now, living and playing baseball 4,000 miles away, there is no reason to take the dad out of coach or the coach out of dad.
"I still call him every day after the game, you know we talk about how the day went, my at-bats, what I did right, what I did wrong, If I did anything good, if I stole some bases, you know, it's still the same situation," said Kolten.
This year, it has been more about what the second baseman has done right.
Wong is pacing the Redbirds in hits, runs, triples, and steals. He is a close second in batting average, meaning a call to the majors is on the horizon.
"I think I'm just going to break down and cry, you know all that hard work you put in your entire life, to finally get that call to the big leagues, I think it's going to be unbelievable and I can't wait," he said.
But the most exciting part will be his call to his family and his father.
"He was playing baseball his entire life, he went to USC and played at the University of Southern California for two years and ended up finishing at Hawaii and played a couple years of independent ball," Kolten said of his father and coach. "And I think he signed a free agent deal with the Indians for a little while, but unfortunately wasn't able to make it."
Fulfilling his father's dream could be the best gift a son could give his dad.
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