Dec. 29, 2008
TEMPE, Ariz. - As we count down the final days of 2008, TheSunDevils.com and Arizona State Baseball countdown the Top 12 Sun Devil Baseball moments of 2008.
#6- Former Sun Devil Don Wakamatsu Named Manager of Seattle Mariners
When the Seattle Mariners named their new manager for the 2009 season, it was historic on many fronts. Don Wakamatsu became the first Asian-American to ever be named a Major League manager, and he became the first former Sun Devil student-athlete to to be named to that position.
Wakamatsu played four seasons (182-85) as the catcher for the Sun Devils, batting .314 with 18 homers and 133 RBI. He was named First Team All-Pac-10 three times, helping lead ASU to Omaha in 1983 and 1984. He was the team cpatain his senior season of 1985.
He spent the last six seasons as a big league coach, including the 2008 season as bench coach for the Oakland A's. Last season was his fifth overall as a bench coach in the Majors. Prior to joining Oakland, he coached with the Texas Rangers from 2003-07, spending four seasons (2003-06) as bench coach for Buck Showalter. He moved to the third base coaches box under new manager Ron Washington in 2007. While with Texas, Wakamatsu also worked closely with the Rangers catching corps.
Wakamatsu also spent three seasons (2000-02) in the Angels player development system, the last two (2001-02) as minor league coordinator and roving catching instructor.
Wakamatsu managed for four seasons in the minor leagues, including being named California League Manager of the Year in 1998 with High Desert. Wakamatsu joined the Angels system as the manager at Erie (AA) in the Eastern League in 2000. That followed three years (1997-99) as a manager in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. His 1999 El Paso club featured several future Major Leaguers, including Rod Barajas, Erubiel Durazo, Junior Spivey, Brad Penny and John Patterson. He led the High Desert Mavericks (high-A) to the Cal League playoffs in 1998, posting a 44-26 second half mark on his way to being named the league's manager of the year. Don started his managing career with Peoria (rookie) in the Arizona Summer League in 1997.
Wakamatsu's playing career included 12 years, spread among seven organizations, from 1985-1996. He closed out his playing career as a player/coach with Seattle's AA Port City affiliate in 1996. He also played one game with Tacoma (AAA) that year. He had also served as a player/coach with Canton-Akron in the Cleveland farm system in 1995 after starting the season with nine games in Tacoma.
Don played 18 games in the Major Leagues, making 9 starts, with the 1991 Chicago White Sox. All nine of his starts came with knuckleballer Charlie Hough on the mound.