Lenn Sakata

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Lenn Haruki Sakata

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Biographical Information[edit]

Lenn Sakata was a light-hitting utility infielder mainly for the Baltimore Orioles in the early 1980s. He began his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, but was traded to Baltimore in December of 1979 for pitcher John Flinn. He was a member of the 100-win 1980 Orioles team, the 1982 team that finished one game behind the Brewers in the American League East, and won the World Series championship with the 1983 edition of the team.

Sakata is probably best known for his part in the Orioles' 7-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on August 24, 1983 (Boxscore). He entered the game at second base as a late-inning substitute but after a number of pinch hitters and other substitutions depleted the Orioles' bench, Sakata was pressed into duty as an emergency catcher in the top of the 10th inning. With Sakata behind the dish for the first (and last) time in his career, the Blue Jays put three runners on base. But in succession pitcher Tippy Martinez picked each one off first base. In the bottom of the 10th Sakata, who hit 25 home runs in his 11-year career, hit a three-run home run off Randy Moffitt to win the game. He claimed jokingly that he would have done anything not to have to return for another inning behind the plate.

In 1990, Sakata played for the San Bernardino Pride of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. He played in 15 games and was batting .327 with 2 home runs and 10 RBI when the league folded.

Sakata coached in the Oakland A's system from 1988 to 1990 and the California Angels' chain with the Edmonton Trappers in 1991-1992 and Vancouver Canadians in 1993-1994. He then went to Japan in the Chiba Lotte Marines organization from 1995 to 1998. He was in the San Francisco Giants organization from 1999 to 2007, all but three of them as manager of the San Jose Giants. He was also manager of the Bakersfield Blaze in 2000, the Fresno Grizzlies in 2002 and was a roving hitting instructor in 2003. Sakata also managed briefly in the Oakland A's chain in 1988-1989. Sakata has won 3 California League championships (2001 co-champ with Lake Elsinore, 2005, and 2007) as manager for the San Jose Giants.

After the 2007 season, Sakata re-joined the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball as their farm team manager. Sakata returned to America as hitting coach of the Asheville Tourists in 2011. He transitioned back to manager of the California League Modesto Nuts in 2012 & 2013, then moved to skipper the San Jose Giants for 2014. Sakata stepped away from the game after that season and retired to Hawaii. With his time in minor league baseball seemingly done, the San Jose Giants retired his number in 2019 to commemorate his contributions to the club. Sakata, however, had a next chapter. He was called back into service by the Giants organization to manage in the 2021 season back with the San Jose Giants.

Notable Achievement[edit]

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1988 Southern Oregon Athletics Northwest League 46-30 1st Oakland Athletics Lost League Finals
1989 Modesto A's California League 23-37 -- Oakland Athletics replaced by Keith Lieppman (2-2) June 9
1999 San Jose Giants California League 75-65 4th (t) San Francisco Giants Lost League Finals
2000 Bakersfield Blaze California League 80-60 2nd San Francisco Giants Lost in 1st round
2001 San Jose Giants California League 77-63 2nd San Francisco Giants League Co-Champs
2002 Fresno Grizzlies Pacific Coast League 57-87 16th San Francisco Giants
2004 San Jose Giants California League 74-66 4th San Francisco Giants Lost in 2nd round
2005 San Jose Giants California League 85-55 1st San Francisco Giants League Champs
2006 San Jose Giants California League 82-58 1st San Francisco Giants Lost in 2nd round
2007 San Jose Giants California League 73-67 5th San Francisco Giants League Champs
2012 Modesto Nuts California League 73-67 4th Colorado Rockies Lost League Finals
2013 Modesto Nuts California League 42-45 -- Colorado Rockies -- Replaced by Fred Nelson (33-20) on July 8
2014 San Jose Giants California League 73-67 6th San Francisco Giants
2021 San Jose Giants Low-A West 76-44 2nd San Francisco Giants League Champs

Related Sites[edit]