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SIDELINES: Ishikawa lives out every kid's baseball fantasy — plays for Yankees

By CASEY OLSON
Federal Way Mirror Sports editor
July 20, 2013 · Updated 8:51 PM
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Federal Way High School graduate Travis Ishikawa struck out in his only two at-bats for the New York Yankees on July 8. The Yankees cut Ishikawa to make room for Derek Jeter. / Courtesy photo

Everybody has dreams of being a professional athlete.

I don't care if you were the biggest knob, nerd or dweeb in the world, when you were a kid, you dreamed of playing professional sports. No exceptions.

During the fall, every little boy wanted to play quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. In winter, you were the starting small forward for the Boston Celtics and spent hours in the driveway counting down for the last-second shot — 5…4…3…2…1.

But, during my time as a kid, which was admittedly a long time ago, the biggest sporting fantasy was to play Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers were/are the pinnacle. The "gold standard" for all professional franchises to look up to.

Federal Way High School graduate Travis Ishikawa got to actually live out one of those "dreams" last week. Ishikawa got to start a game at first base for the New York Yankees inside Yankee Stadium, the House that (Babe) Ruth Built.

"Obviously, it doesn't matter where you grew up, you've heard of the Yankees," Ishikawa told MLB.com after getting picked up by New York. "Just to be a part of it, I'm excited."

Ishikawa was on his way to church near his home in the San Francisco area on July 7 when he got a call from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman telling him to get to New York in time for the next day's game against the Royals. So Ishikawa took the red-eye across the country and was hitting sixth for the Yankees on July 8.

“When you get here, you play,” manager Joe Girardi said before the game. “That’s the bottom line. We’ve acquired so many people over the course of the season out of need. When you do that, you need them to play.”

But Ishikawa's New York Yankee fairytale didn't last very long at all. In fact, his New York career might have had the shortest in the history of the storied franchise.

Ishikawa got only two at-bats for the Yankees after starting at first base July 8 against the Kansas City Royals. He was designated for assignment by the Yankees on July 11 in order to create a roster spot for Derek Jeter, who, on the other hand, has the most career plate appearances as a New York Yankee (10,551).

New York claimed Ishikawa off waivers after the Baltimore Orioles designated him for assignment on June 29. He batted .118 in 17 at-bats with Baltimore this year, and hit .316 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs for the Orioles triple-A affiliate, Norfolk, this season. Ishikawa's a career .260 hitter over six Major League seasons.

Ishikawa signed the minor-league deal with Baltimore in the offseason after a solid year for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder didn't play a single Major League game in 2011 after a shoulder injury.

Ishikawa mostly served as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement at first base for the Brewers last season after spending nine seasons with the San Francisco Giants' organization. On the season, Ishikawa hit .257 with four home runs, 30 RBIs and 19 runs in 152 at bats.

Ishikawa was a San Francisco draft pick out of Federal Way in 2002 and played 281 games for the team since 2006. He has a lifetime batting average of .264 with 19 home runs, 110 RBIs, 40 doubles in 740 at-bats for San Francisco and Milwaukee.

Ishikawa spent a bulk of the 2009 season as the Giants' everyday first baseman after an impressive spring training. During that season, Ishikawa hit .261 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs in 120 regular season games.

 


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