100 and counting | News, Sports, Jobs

Rome Braves manager Kanekoa Texeira throws a couple of shakas as he poses for a photo in front of a scoreboard celebrating his 100th managerial win last Thursday. Mills Fitzner photos

Kanekoa Texeira was surprised by the announcement at AdventHealth Stadium after a win for his Rome Braves last Thursday.

The Maui native, Molokai resident, former major leaguer and manager of the High Class A Rome (Ga.) Braves — an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves major league organization — had just won his 100th game in his second season guiding the ball club made up of young prospects in the South Atlantic League.

Texeira was on his way out of the stadium with his family — wife Leohoonani and their two young daughters, Kealohi, 4, and Kailana, 19 months — when the PA announcer said he had just reached the milestone.

“It was awesome, man, came quicker than I thought,” Texeira said via phone on Monday. “Man, I didn’t even know until after we won the game, they put it up on the board and I was, like, ‘Shoots.’ Dang, 100 wins, kind of awesome, you know. It was kind of quick, quicker than I thought. It was cool, man.”

After going 56-60 in his first season as a manager last year — his playing career ended in 2016 — Texeira’s young troops were 48-34 this season and 12-4 in the second-half standings through Tuesday. They led the SAL South Division by 2 1/2 games and were riding an eight-game winning streak.

Kanekoa Texeira, shown during a game last year, has compiled a 104-94 record since taking over as manager of the High Class A Rome (Ga.) Braves, an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves major league organization, in 2021.

Texeira was a pitching coach in Rookie ball in 2017 and 2018, then a pitching coach in Rome in 2019. In 2020, the minor league season was wiped out due to the pandemic and he was named manager in Rome in 2021.

The Texeiras live in Kaunakakai during the offseason, and Kanekoa tries his best to keep up with the happenings of baseball in his home state.

“I try to follow all the guys, I try to look to see where they’re at, if I get to play against any of them — I didn’t get any this year, man,” Texeira said with a slight sigh. “I’ve got one Hawaii boy on my team, from Saint Louis High School, Dylan Spain.”

Texeira grew up in Kula, attended Kamehameha Schools Kapalama and Saddleback (Calif.) Junior College before being drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2006 in the 22nd round.

When it came to Texeira’s attention that Keahi Rawlins, a former teammate with the Island Movers summer collegiate season team in the mid-2000s, was now the head coach of Molokai High School, Texeira stopped by the Farmers field in Hoolehua.

It was just four days before Texeira had to report to spring training that he found out about Molokai practice starting. He was at Molokai practice each of those days and plans to be back when the Farmers start up again next spring.

“A guy of his caliber; with all that knowledge, obviously it’s huge for us,” Rawlins said via phone Tuesday. “I know how much places he’s been and what he’s accomplished as a local boy and for him to come out for us, in that short amount of time how much he taught the boys, just so much. They went, ‘Whoa coach, he taught me so much,’ and that was basically in two bullpen sessions.

“When we first started nobody was really in shape and I told him, ‘You know, Kane, my pitchers’ arms ain’t ready,’ but he was still able to work with what he had. That tells you what kind of special coach he is.”

When Texeira could tell that baseballs were scarce for the Farmers, he made a call to his friends in the Braves organization and got them all they needed. He also gave Rawlins a fungo bat for infield/outfield practice that Rawlins treasures.

“I have donated a lot, the balls are very expensive and I have donated a bunch of those,” Rawlins said. “He knows my boss real well and (former minor leaguer from Molokai) Milton Loo — he’s married to Milton Loo’s cousin — so we got off real well. We played together way back on Oahu, so we weren’t strangers, we knew each other a little bit.

“Offseason, he said he’d come out whenever. We’re looking forward to next year — he wants to come out earlier.”

Texeira was 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA over 49 relief pitching appearances in 2010 and 2011 with Seattle and Kansas City in the majors, and had a 31-35 minor league record with an ERA of 3.56 over 693 2/3 innings in 297 games with 15 different teams.

He has definitely found a home on the road in Rome — his wife and family are currently with him, and his mom was there recently as well.

“It’s awesome, man, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I didn’t have the wife that could handle the kids and hold it down when I’m gone,” Texeira said. “I mean, they being able to travel here, they’ve been here for a month and a half. It’s been awesome, man.

“To see the kids during the game and then have them run on the field after the game, see them smile. I mean, some kids don’t get to do that and we get the privilege to do it for our kids.”

When the Texeira ladies travel home to get back in time for preschool for Kealohi, Kanekoa is able to dive even more into his work. When the girls are in Georgia, the days are full.

“When my family’s not here, shoot, I live in my office, man — I call it ‘one bedroom loft,’ “ he said. “But when they are here, we take the kids to the playground and run around at 9 o’clock in the morning and then probably about 12:30, 1 o’clock, bring them back home, tap my wife in, back in , and head back to the field.”

Texeira loves to look forward.

“Hopefully one day my daughter … who knows, she might end up on a baseball field coaching or be somewhere in the front office,” he said.

Texeira often calls himself the “most Hawaiian guy in Rome, Georgia,” but he also lives the part. He knows, at 36, he is an important piece to the pathways for 50th state baseball hopefuls behind him.

“I always represent Hawaii and Maui — that’s just where I come from,” he said. “I’m never going to forget it, always. If people see me they are always going to know I’m from Hawaii. I’ve got a Hawaiian shirt, I’ve got slippahs on, I grew my hair longer than it was before.

“Shoot, I play reggae music throughout the whole day, I’ve got a little speaker with me on the field, everywhere, in my office.”

Texeira is proud to be Hawaiian — he is the fourth major leaguer ever from Maui and is a third cousin to former major league veteran Shane Victorino.

“You know, people need Hawaiian people in their lives to make their lives a lot easier, I always say,” Texeira said. “We bring smiles and positivity everywhere we go.”

He has coached three major leaguers in his short career as a pitching coach and manager.

“It’s exciting — as a pitching coach I had maybe two guys now make it to the big leagues and this year we got Michael Harris III in the big leagues, I had him two years,” Texeira said. “So, seeing that just makes me continue to keep doing what I want to do: just develop the kids and get them to the big leagues and watch them shine, man.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.