Don Wakamatsu, a former major league baseball manager (Seattle Mariners) who is now a coach for the Toronto Blue Jays, is getting some attention up there for the stylish calligraphy he applies to his lineup cards. Wakamatsu, who is from Northern California, played in the Dodgers farm system for a bit in the early 1990s then coached in the Angels system and at High Desert in Adelanto. Wakamatsu, whose father was born in the Tule Lake internment camp during World War II, was the first Japanese-American manager in the majors.
He's untrained in the actual art of calligraphy. From the Globe and Mail in Toronto:
The Blue Jays’ lineup cards rendered by the 49-year-old former catcher are miniature works of art, transforming the list of each team’s players posted on the dugout wall into an object of unlikely beauty....
Legibility is a characteristic of Mr. Wakamatsu’s orderly Gothic script, derived from the official documents written by medieval scribes. Having seen many sloppy lineup cards, he knows the advantage of clarity when it comes to baseball’s managerial strategy – sorting out pinch-hitting possibilities or making a move based on which pitchers remain in the opponent’s bullpen.
But for a man who had 31 at-bats in his brief big-league stint, the hand-crafted lettering also sends a message to the players whose names he inscribes so patiently: Small things matter.
“Calligraphy may have no bearing on winning a game. But it’s about paying attention to detail, about taking time to get things right, about making sure you do everything you have to do.”
Wakamatsu's lineup cards are sold at auction or sometimes given to rookies when they achieve a new milestone.
Photo: Chris Young/Globe and Mail