Getting Ishi With It…
It was just a few days ago, but it is still fresh in my mind. Maybe that’s because I live for baseball — and I certainly live for the excitement of playoff baseball.
Travis Ishikawa etched his name in baseball history on Thursday, October 16, 2014 with a game-winning, walk-off, three-run home run. Much like Bobby Thompson did in 1951 — it was a home run for all the marbles. Both home runs led to — “the Giants win the pennant”. I wasn’t alive to watch the 1951 home run — are you surprised? I’m not that old! Even so, I know all about Bobby Thompson’s home run. Sometimes, history repeats itself. It did last week.
With that home run, Ishikawa will go down as a playoff hero for many years to come — much like Thompson.
So, who is Travis Ishikawa? Charlotte Knights fans should know that name. Right?
Ishikawa played for the Charlotte Knights in 2013. He wasn’t with the team very long — just 34 games. He wasn’t new to the daily grind of Minor League Baseball at that point — it was his 10th season in the minors in 2013. It was also his 9th different Minor League team since 2002. He was a veteran and he was working his way back to the majors — a place where he had already spent parts of six seasons.
At the age of 22, Ishikawa made his Major League debut with the San Francisco Giants as a pinch-hitter. It was April 18, 2006. I’m sure it’s a day he’ll never forgot.
Drafted by the Giants in the 21st round of the 2002 draft, the Seattle, Washington-born slugger earned that spot in the majors. In 2005 with High-A San Jose, he hit .282 with 22 home runs and 79 RBIs. Add in his 28 doubles and seven triples and it was a successful season for the 22-year-old. His 122 hits in 127 games were a career-high.
While it has been a long road for Ishikawa since those days, it was fitting that he was the one who hit that home run. Nearly out of baseball — a few times — the Giants gave him a chance this season after he was designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Giants — the team that drafted him over 12 years ago — gave him one more shot at the majors.
He appeared in 71 games for the Fresno Grizzlies this season (San Francisco’s Triple-A affiliate). He showed power — hitting 11 home runs over that span. An injury to Michael Morse in July meant that he would get one more shot at the majors. This time, he was called on as an outfielder — switching from first base.
Ishikawa played for the Giants at a great time of the season. San Francisco was in the midst of a playoff run. He hit .274 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 47 games.
Then, there were the playoffs. Then, there was that home run.
Game one of the World Series starts Tuesday in Kansas City and as a baseball fan, I can’t think of a better time of year! This year’s World Series features the Kansas City Royals against the San Francisco Giants in what should be a World Series for the ages. Yes, really.
As a baseball fan, this is a great matchup. The Giants are building a dynasty, while the Royals are in search of postseason success for the first time in 29 years. The Royals have won all eight 2014 playoff games they have played so far. They play small ball, defense, and have an outstanding bullpen. They want to win for their fans — for that city. They have “Big Game James” too!
Then, there are the mighty Giants. Led by Madison Bumgarner on the mound, Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence, the Giants have been the class of the National League for the past five seasons. They have former Charlotte Knights reliever Javier Lopez out of the ‘pen. Their game two starter also wore a Knights jersey — Jake Peavy. He rehabbed with Charlotte in 2009 and 2011 while with the White Sox.
Then, there is Travis Ishikawa. Baseball is made up of great stories. His story is one of them.