Wakamatsu to coach in All-Star Game
Mariners skipper selected by Rays' Maddon for AL squad
KANSAS CITY -- Joe Maddon has known Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu for more than 25 years. Maddon just met Royals manager Trey Hillman last season.
Both will be at Maddon's side when he manages the American League All-Star team at the 80th All-Star Game on June 14 in St. Louis.
Maddon, who earned the honor of managing the American League side after leading the Rays to the World Series in 2008, selected Seattle's Wakamatsu and Kansas City's Hillman as coaches for Midsummer Classic.
Maddon's Tampa Bay staff, including third-base coach Tom Foley, hitting coach Steve Henderson, first-base coach George Hendrick, pitching coach Jim Hickey, bench coach Dave Martinez and bullpen coach Bobby Ramos, will accompany Maddon to St. Louis as well.
Maddon said he met Wakamatsu in the early 80s, when Wakamatsu was playing at Arizona State.
"He was a catcher there and Jim Brock was the manager at that time. Actually, I was a young scout and a Minor League manager myself. Coach Brock invited me out to work with his catchers and one happens to be Wak," Maddon said. "I just thought it would be a great opportunity for him, being his first year in Seattle, to come to the All-Star Game. It should be, in some ways, beneficial to him and to that franchise."
Wakamatsu said Maddon offered him the job when the Rays visited Seattle earlier this season.
"I've known Joe for 25 years, and was honored he'd ask me, especially a first-year manager," Wakamatsu said. "It's quite an opportunity. I'll bring my family with me and have them share it with me."
Wakamatsu' players were also excited to hear that their first-year skipper was headed to St. Louis.
"[Ken] Griffey [Jr.] said the greatest thing about me getting picked is we probably won't have a workout [during the All-Star break]," Wakamatsu said.
Maddon first met Hillman last season, when Maddon's Rays were playing Hillman's Royals.
With the All-Star Game in St. Louis, Maddon thought it would be special to include the other Major League team from Missouri. "I [was] just getting to know Trey," Maddon said. "Trey is from the great state of Missouri. I thought it would be good to get him involved also being the American League team that's in that state."
Hillman said Maddon called him about a month ago, and the call came as quite a shock. They only crossed paths a few times, but Hillman liked what he heard.
"It's a great honor. I'm humbled by it, [and] very appreciative to Joe for the selection," said Hillman, who is in his second season as Kansas City's manager. "It's not something that comes along every day. I certainly don't take it for granted."
This isn't the first All-Star Game for Hillman, who came to Kansas City in 2008 after coaching the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan from 2003-07.
In 1999, while managing the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate in Columbus, Hillman was a coach in the All-Star Futures Game during the All-Star festivities in Boston. He went to the Homerun Derby that year, and also sat in the stands for the Major League All-Star Game.
"This one will be a little different being in the dugout," Hillman said.
This time around, Hillman plans to the keep video recorder rolling and his family by his side.
"It'll be wonderful. I'll just try to slow it down. It'll be one of those things that will be so memorable that you'll wish that it went by a lot slower than it does.
Maddon has been a part of other All-Star Games, too.
He coached in the 2003 All-Star Game while serving as the bench coach of the Angels. And he's happy to have Wakamatsu and Hillman on board as he prepares to fill the manager's seat for the first time.
"I've always been a big Wak fan and I've gotten to know Trey and I like Trey. I think that the relationship between St. Louis and Kansas City made it the right thing to do."
Rustin Dodd is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.