2011-10-26

Wilbur Donald AKA The Don AKA Wak Wakamatsu

 This story is based on true events

We decided to look into the past of our bench coach and what we found was nothing short of shocking.

The Don was born in small town USA to a Japanese father and Italian mother. Learning early on in his life that nothing is given to you for free and that if you really wanted something, you have to take it and have the mess dealt with later. He spent his childhood running from his dynamic heritage, just trying to fit in with the crowd. It wasn't till high school in the Bay area, where he was a 3 sport star that he began to realize that life is based on pain.

His first love, like any red blooded American, was football. But he was told he was too small to continue on with his childhood dream of being in the NFL. This angered The Don. And he in turn responded by having his critics "taken care of" by his crew. Looking back, we can say without question that this is the point in time where his reign of terror began.

Having his dreams taken away from him so early on in his life changed him as a man and he decided the focus on baseball. He walked into the recruitment office of Arizona State University curiously wearing a long trench coat even though it was a typically hot summer day and calmly declared himself a worthy recipient of a full scholarship. He was told again that he was too small and that he was welcome to try his luck as a walk on. This angered The Don. He stood up, pulled out a vintage Tommy Gun and asked the recruiter if he would reconsider. Thankfully, no blood was shed that day.

He played well enough to be drafted by the Yankees of New York with the last pick in the entire 1984 Amateur Draft. Excited by the very thought of being able to bring his crew to the birthplace of gangsterism but knowing in his heart that they were not ready for the big time just yet, he returned to ASU to complete his degree. It proved to be a wise decision and he was selected in the 11th round of the 1985 draft by the Cincinnati Reds. The signing bonus he received was spent on establishing a marine import export business and a trash removal service.

The next 4 years of his life were spent going from city to city on the East coast under the guise of being a baseball player. In fact, the sole purpose of his time spent there was to establish connections. You see, his power base was the West Coast and he knew he needed to diversify his portfolio.

Then the unthinkable happened. The Reds released him without what he felt was just cause. This angered The Don. A few cryptic phone calls to his now hardened crew was all it took and they quickly descended on the city of Cincinnati. His instructions were simple. Destroy everything. A week of violence ensued not comparable to anything ever seen before. It was quickly deemed in the press as: The Week of the Wak. (pronounced WOK)

Mercifully the Chicago White Sox came calling in need of a catcher. This pleased The Don. Feeling somewhat better, he called off the bloodshed and told his crew to head up to the Windy City. He felt they were now ready to make their mark on the place that was made famous by his great grandfather, second removed, none other than Al Capone himself.

In 1990 he was promoted to the AAA level Vancouver Canadians. He was instructed to head up to BC and that he would need to bring a bigger glove with him. Confused by the request, he interpreted it as a threat. Hearing about these "crazy canucks" and the way they operated, he felt panic set in for the first and only time of his life. Another series of cryptic phone calls went out to the crew and they were told to no less than triple their numbers in response nationwide. Knowing that setting up shop in a new country would be difficult, he decided it was best to lay low at first. He turned over the command of his empire to his most trusted right hand man Antonio "The Fist" Russo.

While in Canada he quickly realized that things worked very different. The tactics that he knew all to well were largely ineffective on these fun loving, friendly people. He decided it was best to hire a body guard just to be safe. His criteria for the job was simple: you must be a ninja and you must have extensive knowledge of the lucrative drug trade. After a couple of weeks of interviews he finally found his man, Takashi Takahashi, and gave him the nickname Taki out of necessity. 

For the next year and a bit, he and Taki became very close. They shared valuable insight to each other on how their respective businesses operated as well as various techniques they used on how to get their way. Word got back to the crew in Chicago and they were somewhat perplexed. Who was this new guy and why was he not introduced to them? A large bounty was placed on Taki's head but due to his schooling in the arts of ninja, it was never able to be collected.

In early May 1991 he got the phone call he had been waiting his whole life for. It was Publishers Clearing House letting him know he was a finalist for the grand prize. Disgusted that someone was able to find him while he was laying low in Canada, he decided to force the issue. He walked into his manager's office wearing the same trench coat that he used to get his way previously in Arizona and demanded a promotion to the big leagues. His manager disagreed, telling him he wasn't ready. This angered The Don. He stood up, pulled out a samurai sword which he had now mastered thanks to Taki's teachings and asked his skipper to reconsider. Thankfully, no blood was shed that day.

He made his MLB debut on May 22, 1991. What should have been a joyous occasion was marred with the distrust that had built between his bodyguard and his crew. They were unable to accept the new guy due to his inability to speak Italian. This angered The Don. He decided to send his crew and Taki to Sea World with the instructions not to return until their differences were resolved. The plan worked well and with his henchmen now all finally on the same page, he was able to turn his full attention to trying to hit and catch big league pitching.

18 games, 7 hits and a .226 average later he was granted free agency. That's right, he was gonna get paid and he was gonna sign close to home. The Dodgers seemed like a great fit and he signed with them. Only problem was he didn't get the back up job and he was sent to New Mexico. This angered The Don. Not because the money in the big leagues was so much better, he had the import export thing on the side, but more because he was looking forward to playing in front of his family. He called them and told them to get out of Cali. Mercifully they refused. The Don decided instead to use his well oiled drug trade machine to harm the people of California. Shortly thereafter medical marijuana became the norm and we all know how that turned out.

He spent the next five years toiling in the Minor Leagues for the Dodgers, Rangers, Indians, Mariners and Brewers. He had already tasted the glory that was the big leagues and was desperate to return. At each stop he attempted to strong arm the organization into promoting him to the big club with terrible results. As you can imagine threats are not an effective way to get what you want. Unfortunately The Don knew no other way. He was forced to hang up his playing cleats at age 33 but steadfastly refused to give up the Tommy Gun.

From 1997 to 2000 he decided to try his hand at coaching. He had learned little about the game in his time as a player but he was well versed in intimidation and used this to mold the young impressionable minds that he was trusted to lead. Quickly he was labelled as the furthest thing from players coach. It was The Don's way or.....you didn't want to find out. This method seemed to work better in the low Minors and in 1998 he was named Manager of the Year for the California league. It was nice being so close to home and the results reflected that.

In 2003, the Texas Rangers came calling and offered the bench coach gig. The Don was excited to get the opportunity to wear a big league uniform again. He was more excited with the opportunity to bring his empire to the border state. His trusted aids, The Fist and Taki, had been effectively working together for quite some time. It brought him great joy to have his entire heritage covered in just two men.

In 2007 he was demoted to third base coach. Confused by this injustice, The Don decided to confront his new boss Ron Washington. He quickly figured out Wash had a little habit that he could easily exploit. Over the course of the season he also learned that Wash had absolutely no fucking clue how to manage a bullpen and if the Rangers won a game, it was in spite of their manager. The Don refused to work for such a man and parlayed his insider info into a letter of recommendation. Like so many times before, he headed home to Cali, this time to coach for the Oakland A`s.

On November 19, 2008 he was given the job he felt he had earned long ago. The Seattle Mariners needed a new field manager and The Don nailed the interview. This time he refrained from wearing his trench coat and instead decided to draw on his wealth of coaching and playing experience. The calculated move worked out and he was named the skipper. A party was in order. And what a party is was.


Once the 2009 season began it became clear that the 61 - 101 record from the 2008 season was not going to be repeated. A dubious record in which for the first time in MLB history a team with a 100 million dollar payroll lost a hundred games. The Don was able to quickly change the culture in Seattle. Under his leadership the Mariners were able to finish the year, his first as manager, with an 85 - 77 record. He was named to the All Star team in St. Louis as a coach. Basically he kicked some AL West ass.

Something changed that off season. The Don began drinking his own Kool Aid, a big no no. He seemed to take his foot off the gas pedal and during spring training he let his players decided whether or not they wanted to participate in stretching exercises. Naturally this resulted in many injuries as the season wore on. By the time early August came around his team resembled a C level mixed slo pitch team and he was fired. This angered the Don. As you can probably guess by now, this is never a good thing. He gathered up the crew and headed off to the Middle East of all places. Authorities have no idea what transpired next. This and only this part of his story remains a mystery.

He resurfaced sometime in November. The Toronto Blue Jays were a team in flux. They needed a solid bench coach to compliment their newly minted rookie manager and The Don's name was at the top of everyone's list. He drew on his first hand knowledge of the Canadian people to woo the GM and President of the ball club. It was an easy decision to hire The Don. His primary duties were to make the team's many catching prospects into viable big league players. J.P. Arencibia was the first to benefit from The Don's teachings. His message to J.P. was simple. Hit bombs, fuck OBP and get some part of your body in front of the God damn ball while blocking it. In time, the message began to set in.

Constant rumors surround The Don's current employment. Many teams think he has what it takes to manage in the big leagues. And they might be right. But few in the game remain that are aware of the rein of terror that follows this man where ever he goes. We here at 1BJW debated on whether to bring this story to light and are deathly scared of the consequences associated with doing so.

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