CNMI baseball lost a legend yesterday following the death of Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios.
According to his grandson A.J. Murig, the CNMI Sports Hall of Famer died of natural causes at his residence in Chalan Kanoa yesterday afternoon. He was 89.
“He lived a full life, dedicating his time to baseball and the church. We will definitely miss him and will carry on his legacy in baseball,” said Murig, who recalled learning from his grandfather how to do baseball statistics when he was just 10 years old.
“Tan Ko” was the man on the press box of the baseball field named after him, keeping the game’s scoresheets since the beginning of the men’s baseball league (former Saipan Major League and now Saipan Baseball League) in 1982 until 2006. However, he started doing baseball records earlier—in the 1950s when he returned to Saipan after studying in Palau—and his neatly written scoresheets and players and teams’ statistics served as proofs of the rich history of baseball, not only in the Marianas, but in the entire Micronesian region.
Some of Palacios’ well-kept statistics are found in the book Saipan Baseball From The Beginning he co-authored with KSPN news director Bob Coldeen, who was among the members of the CNMI baseball community that gave tribute to him.
“’Tan Ko’ was one of my first friends on Saipan, a true gentleman and wonderful person whose selfless devotion to baseball was unparalleled in Micronesia. A true legend,” Coldeen said.
SBL coordinator and fellow CNMI Sports Hall of Famer Tony Rogolifoi also had good words for “Tan Ko.”
“He was a baseball icon. His contribution to CNMI baseball is immeasurable. He taught me a lot about the sport, especially when it comes to keeping the game’s statistics. Without him and his works, we have no baseball history and records to show. Our condolences to the family,” the Northern Marianas Sports Association executive director said.
NMSA, which inducted “Tan Ko” into the Class 2005 of the CNMI Sports Hall of Fame, also took note of his contributions to the favorite sport on the islands.
“NMSA and the entire sporting community of the Northern Mariana Islands are saddened by the passing of Francisco M. Palacios. A member of our Hall of Fame, his contributions to baseball in the CNMI and the Micronesian region are immeasurable. His memory will live on, not only on the baseball field named in his honor, but in our hearts as well. We offer our most sincere condolences to his family,” NMSA president Mike White.
Saipan Tribune reporter Jon Perez was awed of Palacios’ wealth of information in baseball that his visit to the latter’s residence to take a copy of the scoresheets almost always lasted for more than one hour.
“He will sit down and discuss the highlights of the games and what record this pitcher or batter broke. He taught me a lot of baseball terms I am not familiar with, as I rarely cover baseball games back in the Philippines. It was an honor meeting him and working with him,” Perez said.
When “Tan Ko” retired from his scorekeeping duties in 2006, his son, Raymond, took over and he vowed to keep his father’s legacy in the sport.
“My father loves baseball very much. Tonight (yesterday), although we are saddened by his death, I will still go to the press box of the ‘Tan Ko” baseball field and do the scoresheets of the game. I am sure that’s what he wanted me to do,” Raymond said.