Hawaiians / Calvin Hill 1974 - 75
As was stated in the 1974 media guide, “The Hawaiians are proud to be the first major league professional sports team for Hawaii and the Pacific.” With two young (34 years of age) aggressive businessmen at the helm, the Hawaii entry to the WFL was bound-and- determined to make the project a financial and cultural success. Players donned leis and the traditional “Hawaiian shirt” for official team photographs, efforts were made to involve the community, and expansion and renovations were planned for the only useable stadium on the Islands. The two partner/owners were Sam Battistone and Chris Hemmeter. Battistone and his father were the founders and operators of the Sambo’s Restaurant chain. Sam also was President of Invest West, a holding company that had ownership of the NBA New Orleans Jazz, franchises in World Team Tennis, the International Track Association, and numerous sports camps. With personal assets of over $10 million and a bank credit line “in the low seven figures” he was legitimate and wealthy with much of the money coming from his share of the Sambo’s holdings. Hemmeter was an up-and-comer on the Islands as a major builder of hotel and condominium sites and had involvement with many community charities. What few knew however, was that the original “owner” of the Hawaiian franchise, or at least owner of the rights to the franchise and eventual team that would play there was Danny Rogers, a friend of Davidson’s who was given these rights when Davidson first came up with his scheme. Rogers, recognized as one of the all time great basketball players at USC, brought in Battistone and Hemmeter as the solvent partners needed to actually have a working football franchise as he had no money and thus could not begin to build a franchise or sign players. Rogers surrendered his position as licensing director for the World Hockey Association and was then rewarded, and remained involved, as the Hawaiians general manager. MORE...
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