Wilbur Donald Wakamatsu (born February 22, 1963) is an American former professional baseball player, scout, coach, manager, and current Bench Coach of the Texas Rangers. Wakamatsu was drafted in the 11th round of the 1985 Major League Baseball draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox. He was hired as bench coach of 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]

Don Wakamatsu
20120824-0289 Don Wakamatsu.jpg
Wakamatsu with the Toronto Blue Jays
Texas Rangers – No. 22
Catcher / Bench Coach
Born: (1963-02-22) February 22, 1963 (age 56)
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
MLB statistics
Batting average.226
Managerial record130–154
Winning %.458
As player

As manager

As coach

Career highlights and awards

Playing careerEdit

High school and collegiateEdit

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 Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio 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 careerEdit

Minor LeaguesEdit

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 LeaguesEdit

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 MLB.com, 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,[year missing] 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] He finished with a record of 127 wins and 147 losses.[10]

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.[11]

On October 25, 2013, Wakamatsu was announced as the new bench coach for the Kansas City Royals.[12]

On April 19, 2015, Wakamatsu was one of five Royals (also pitching coach Dave Eiland, manager Ned Yost, pitcher Kelvin Herrera and shortstop Alcides Escobar) to be ejected in a game against the Oakland Athletics. Two games prior, Escobar had been injured following an attempt by A's third baseman Brett Lawrie to break up a double play. Considering the slide a dirty one, Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura hit Lawrie in the elbow the following game and was immediately ejected. In the series finale, A's pitcher Scott Kazmir hit Lorenzo Cain in the foot and warnings were given. Yost and Eiland were immediately ejected for arguing. Later in the 8th inning, Kelvin Herrera threw a 100 mph fastball behind Lawrie and a trio of ejections followed (Herrera, Wakamatsu and Escobar). The Royals would end up winning the game 4–2 despite the ejections.[13] Wakamatsu was actually ejected twice, as when a warning has been issued, the pitcher and manager are automatically ejected. Wakamatsu was the acting manager. This was the cause of his first ejection, the second being him arguing with the home plate umpire.

The Rangers hired Wakamatsu as their bench coach before the 2018 season.[14] When manager Jeff Banister was fired in September 2018, Wakamatsu took over as interim manager.[15] He finished with a record of three wins and seven losses.[10] He returned to his position as bench coach for the following season.[16]

Managerial recordEdit

As of September 30, 2018
Team From To Regular season record Post–season record
G W L Win % G W L Win %
Seattle Mariners 2009 2010 274 127 147 .464
Texas Rangers 2018 2018 10 3 7 .300 0 0 0
Total 284 130 154 .458 0 0 0

Personal lifeEdit

Wakamatsu is married to Iowa native Laura Lynn Mullin. He resides in North Richland Hills, Texas with wife, and their three children, sons Jacob and Lucas and daughter Jadyn. Both his sons are also baseball players. Jake was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 48th round of the 2011 MLB Draft and currently plays in the Kansas City Royals organization. Luke plays in the Cleveland Indians organization.[17]

Born to a Japanese American father and an Irish American mother,[18] he is fourth generation Japanese American[19] and the first half Caucasian and half Asian 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 November 19, 2008
  2. ^ a b "Blue Jays complete coaching staff for 2011". MLB.com. November 8, 2010. Archived from the original on January 8, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  3. ^ "Hale leaves O's to become Blue Jays bench coach". MLB.com. November 24, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  4. ^ . LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dir/Don/Wakamatsu. Retrieved April 21, 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  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". June 17, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  8. ^ "There's reason to believe in Wakamatsu". Archived from the original on June 17, 2011. Retrieved October 24, 2009.
  9. ^ "Mariners cut ties with skipper Don Wakamatsu" Archived September 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. NBC Sports. Retrieved on August 9, 2010
  10. ^ a b c "Don Wakamatsu". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  11. ^ Miller, Julius. "New York Yankees hire Don Wakamatsu in pro scouting department – MLB Update". Bettor.com. Archived from the original on June 28, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013.
  12. ^ Grathoff, Pete (October 25, 2013). "Royals add Don Wakamatsu, Mike Jirschele to coaching staff". Kansas City Star. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  13. ^ "Ned Yost, Dave Eiland tossed in latest Kansas City Royals-Oakland Athletics incident". Espn.go.com. April 20, 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  14. ^ "Rangers complete coaching staff; Don Wakamatsu returns, Dan Warthen hired - Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. November 6, 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  15. ^ "Texas Rangers: In search of new leading man, interim manager Don Wakamatsu may already be Rangers' best match | SportsDay". Sportsday.dallasnews.com. September 23, 2018. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  16. ^ "Rangers hire former player Luis Ortiz as hitting coach, announce 4 more coaching decisions". Sportsday. November 14, 2018. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  17. ^ "Cleveland Indians deal in bloodlines, switch-pitcher on last day of 2015 MLB draft". Cleveland.com. June 10, 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  18. ^ "A's Bench Coach Wakamatsu Just a Phone Call Away from a Historic Milestone". Nichi Bei Times. October 9, 2008. Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  19. ^ Eskenazi, Stuart. "Local Japanese Americans applaud the Mariners' hiring of Don Wakamatsu," Seattle Times (US). November 20, 2008.

External linksEdit

Sporting positions
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
Preceded by
Chino Cadahia
Kansas City Royals bench coach
Succeeded by
Dale Sveum
Preceded by
Steve Buechele
Texas Rangers bench coach
Succeeded by