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Don Wakamatsu

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Don Wakamatsu

Don Wakamatsu
Kansas City Royals – No. 22
Catcher / Manager / Coach
Born: (1963-02-22) February 22, 1963
Hood River, Oregon
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 22, 1991 for the Chicago White Sox
Last MLB appearance
October 5, 1991 for the Chicago White Sox
Career statistics
Batting average .226
Hits 7
Runs 2
Games managed 274
Win–loss record 127-147
Winning % .464

As player

As manager

As coach

Wilbur Donald "Don" Wakamatsu (born February 22, 1963) is a Major League Baseball catcher and former manager. He was appointed as bench coach by the Kansas City Royals for the 2014 season. He was the manager of the Seattle Mariners for the 2009 season, as well as the majority of the 2010 season.[1] He was the Toronto Blue Jays' bench coach for 2011 and 2012, after which he was replaced by DeMarlo Hale.[2] [3] During the 2013 season he worked as a scout for the New York Yankees in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.[4]

Playing career

High school and collegiate

Wakamatsu was a three-sport star at the Bay Area's Hayward High School in California, and ultimately chose baseball over football due to his lack of size. He and former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio (currently defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos) were baseball and football teammates while there.[5]

He was also an All-Pac-10 catcher during his last three years at Arizona State University, where he was a teammate of Barry Bonds and Alvin Davis. He was drafted by the New York Yankees as the last pick of the 1984 Major League Baseball Draft, but decided to return to ASU.


Wakamatsu was drafted in the 11th round of the 1985 Major League Baseball Draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He reached the Double-A level before the Reds released him before the 1989 season.

Shortly after the Reds released him, he signed with the Chicago White Sox, who assigned him to the Double-A Birmingham Barons. He spent 1990 and most of 1991 with the Triple-A Vancouver Canadians before getting his only call to the big leagues in May 1991. Wakamatsu played 18 games in the majors as a backup catcher for the White Sox in 1991,[6] working in all of his starts for knuckleballer Charlie Hough.

After the 1991 season the White Sox granted Wakamatsu free agency, and he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers shortly after. He spent 1992–1996 playing at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in the Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers organizations before his playing career ended at age 33.

Coaching career

Minor Leagues

Following his playing retirement, Wakamatsu became a minor league manager in the Arizona Diamondbacks system, managing the Arizona League Diamondbacks in 1997, the Class-A High Desert Mavericks in 1998, and the Double-A El Paso Diablos in 1999. In 1998 he was named Manager of the Year in the California League,[6] after leading the High Desert Mavericks to the playoffs.

He spent 2000 managing the Erie SeaWolves, the Anaheim Angels' Double-A affiliate, and then the next two seasons as a roving catching instructor in the Angels organization.

Major Leagues

From 2003 to 2006, he was the Texas Rangers' bench coach. During the 2006 season, he served as manager for two games while Buck Showalter was in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat brought about due to dehydration, and in 2007, took the third base coach job when Ron Washington took over as manager. He spent 2008 as the bench coach of the Oakland Athletics.

On November 19, 2008, he was named the manager of the Seattle Mariners, replacing interim manager Jim Riggleman, and becoming the first Asian-American manager in the majors.

Wakamatsu in 2009

On April 6, 2009, Wakamatsu won his managerial debut as the Mariners beat the Minnesota Twins 6–1 on Opening Day.

Later in the season, Wakamatsu was officially selected as a coach under Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon for the 2009 MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis along with Kansas City Royals manager Trey Hillman on June 17, 2009.[7]

Fred Claire, former baseball executive and current writer for, stated that Wakamatsu and his staff, composed of bench coach Ty Van Burkleo, pitching coach Rick Adair, hitting coach Alan Cockrell, first base coach Lee Tinsley, bullpen coach John Wetteland and performance coach Steve Hecht, deserved credit for a 24-game improvement. Claire wrote this about Wakamatsu:

"It is the relationships that Wakamatsu has built during his time in baseball that defines him best. He was somewhat of an unknown to the public when he was hired as the Mariners' manager last November, but he is well-known and highly respected within the game."[8]

On May 20, 2010, during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wakamatsu received his first career ejection. As of June 12, he has a career total of two ejections.

On August 9, 2010, amidst one of the worst seasons in team history, Wakamatsu was fired as Mariners manager.[9]

On November 8, 2010, Wakamatsu was announced as the new bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays, under new manager John Farrell.[2]

During 2013, Wakamatsu worked as a professional talent scout for the New York Yankees. [10]

On October 25, 2013, Wakamatsu was announced as the new bench coach for the Kansas City Royals.[11]

Personal life

Wakamatsu resides in North Richland Hills, Texas with wife, Laura, sons: Jacob and Lucas, and daughter Jadyn. Jacob was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 48th round of the 2011 MLB Draft

Born to a Japanese American father and an Irish American mother,[12] he is fourth-generation Japanese American;[13] and the first half-Asian and half-Caucasian manager in Major League Baseball history. Close friends and players call him "Wak" (pronounced wok). His father was born in the Tule Lake War Relocation Center, a Japanese American internment camp located in Northern California near the Oregon border.


  1. ^ Booth, Tim (November 19, 2008)"Seattle Mariners name Don Wakamatsu as manager". AP. Retrieved on 2008-11-19
  2. ^ a b "Blue Jays complete coaching staff for 2011".  
  3. ^ "Hale leaves O's to become Blue Jays bench coach".  
  4. ^ . LinkedIn Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Perseverance helps get Don Wakamatsu his first job as M's manager with Alvin Davis' approval". The Seattle Times. November 19, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Texas Rangers Yearbook 2007. Professional Sports Publications. 2007. p. 28. 
  7. ^ "Wakamatsu to coach in All-Star Game". 17 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  8. ^ There's reason to believe in Wakamatsu
  9. ^ "Mariners cut ties with skipper Don Wakamatsu". NBC Sports. Retrieved on 2010-08-09
  10. ^ Miller, Julius. "New York Yankees hire Don Wakamatsu in pro scouting department – MLB Update". Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Grathoff, Pete (October 25, 2013). "Royals add Don Wakamatsu, Mike Jirschele to coaching staff". Kansas City Star. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  12. ^ "A’s Bench Coach Wakamatsu Just a Phone Call Away from a Historic Milestone". Nichi Bei Times. October 9, 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  13. ^ Eskenazi, Stuart. "Local Japanese Americans applaud the Mariners' hiring of Don Wakamatsu," Seattle Times (US). November 20, 2008.

External links

  • Career statistics and player information from MLB, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs
  • Minor league statistics at The Baseball Cube
  • Interview with Don Wakamatsu
  • Venezuelan Professional Baseball League statistics
Preceded by
Dwayne Murphy
AZL Diamondbacks Manager
1997 (with Brian Butterfield)
Succeeded by
Mike Brumley
Preceded by
Chris Speier
High Desert Mavericks Manager
Succeeded by
Derek Bryant
Preceded by
Ed Romero
El Paso Diablos Manager
Succeeded by
Bobby Dickerson
Preceded by
Garry Templeton
Erie SeaWolves Manager
Succeeded by
Luis Pujols
Preceded by
Terry Francona
Texas Rangers Bench Coach
Succeeded by
Art Howe
Preceded by
Steve Smith
Texas Rangers Third Base Coach
Succeeded by
Matt Walbeck
Preceded by
Bob Schaefer
Oakland Athletics Bench Coach
Succeeded by
Todd Steverson
Preceded by
Nick Leyva
Toronto Blue Jays bench coach
Succeeded by
DeMarlo Hale
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