PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Princeton Rays first baseman, Kewby Momoru Ikaika Meyer, lives life one double at a time.
Meyer, born and raised on the island of Oahu, led the NCAA in career doubles last year at Nevada-Reno with 69. He has continued the trend in the minors, with 15 doubles in his first season with Princeton. In the Appalachian rookie league, where every player is trying to stand out, doubles are kind of his thing.
When asked, “Why not triples?” Meyer laughed and joked back, “I stop at second… ‘cause I don’t want to run to third.” But for the glass half full types, that means he’s pushing past first base every opportunity he gets.
He added that he didn’t really set out to break his college’s doubles record. “My coaches in Nevada fine-tuned my swing and helped me make better contact, which led to more doubles.”
Born to a Japanese mother and a Hawaiian father, Meyer said baseball unites the laid back culture of the Hawaiian Islands with the hyper-competitive sensationalism of “The Mainland” sports industry.
“Baseball was competitive in Hawaii. We would gather up the best players and make kind of like an all-star team and from there you’d go to The Mainland and play other teams to see where you’re at.”
Meyer went to his first Cal Ripken World Series in 2004 and was one game short of the championship. In 2005, his team returned and won. Back then Meyer was a 12-year-old pitcher who delivered two shutout innings in relief to clinch the championship for Hawaii.
“We would practice every day. … It was like a college program the way the coaches ran our team. It was kind of a cool experience, being a 12-year-old and doing college stuff.”
Despite discovering the early taste of a World Series championship, at that age, Meyer wasn’t thinking about being drafted by the Rays. “At that time it was just ‘live in the moment,’ ” he said.
Growing up in Hawaii meant that staying competitive in baseball required taking lots of flights, and creative fundraising became crucial. Along with selling Krispy Kream donuts and washing cars, his team would “fishnet,” a Hawaiian strategy that had the young players standing at stoplights with fishnets, essentially panhandling for donations.
After he left the island to play college ball, the first thing he had to get used to was long road trips. “To everyone else here, it’s normal, but for me I need, like, a couple of coffees to get me through a trip.”
Meyers’ fishnetting days may be behind him, but his days of downing double doubles might just be getting started. He’ll need quite a few more road trips to break the Princeton Rays single-season doubles record— it currently sits at 34.