Tolia "Tony" Solaita (January 15, 1947 – February 10, 1990) was a Major League Baseball player for the New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals, California Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, and Montreal Expos between 1968 and 1979. He also played four seasons in Japan for the Nippon Ham Fighters from 1980 to 1983.
As of 2015, Solaita is the only Major League Baseball player to have hailed from American Samoa. Pitcher Mike Fetters and outfielder Benny Agbayani are Hawaiian-born players of half-Samoan ancestry, while outfielder Chris Aguila is also partially Samoan and was born in California.
Solaita had been a prolific home run hitter in the minor leagues, hitting 49 home runs in 1968 for High Point-Thomasville, but was mostly relegated to a backup position during his Major League playing days. In 1975, while playing for the Royals, he hit 16 home runs in 231 at-bats, second to only Dave Kingman in home run to at-bat ratio.
After becoming a free agent following the 1979 season, Solaita, opted for a four-year contract in the Japanese League, where he was designated hitter for the Nippon Ham Fighters and averaged nearly 40 home runs a year. Solaita retired after the 1983 season.
He was murdered in Tafuna, American Samoa on February 10, 1990. He was shot in a dispute over a land transaction.
By Dean Hanley
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