For the Mariners, there is hope that Wakamatsu will turn the team around after not living up to the expectations set by the public. For the Japanese American community, this is even bigger news, as it thrusts a Nikkei into the spotlight of a sport that is becoming increasingly populated by Japanese players. And what better place than Seattle, which already boasts one of the game’s best in Ichiro Suzuki, a solid player in Kenji Johjima and a large Asian population to support the move.
Born in Oregon to a former internee, Wakamatsu played briefly in the major league in the early 1990s and has since been a bench coach for several clubs, including the Oakland A’s, which features another Japanese American star in Kurt Suzuki. While Wakamatsu was hired for his managerial skills, this is a decision that signals a changing of the guard in major league baseball. It reflects the new, global face of baseball and should open the door for more minorities in the sport. This is a good day for Japanese Americans.