When Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie stares down batter Travis Ishikawa, the San Francisco Giants left-fielder, it might be the first time two fourth-generation Japanese Americans go head-to-head in a World Series.
That Game Three scenario could happen as the World Series moves to San Francisco, and it would be far from trivial.
Guthrie, 35, was born and raised in Oregon to a Japanese-American mother from Hawaii. He told Asahi.com, that she would often make his favorite food, shrimp tempura. Guthrie admits he speaks no Japanese, and as recently as 2011, had never even visited Japan.
Still, he said, “I feel a strong tie with Japanese culture, but I don’t know why. I feel close to Japanese players." He added that he feels there is a sense of “Japaneseness” in him that’s different from other American players.
Guthrie almost gave up baseball in college. After a mediocre freshman season at Brigham Young University, he went on a two-year Mormon mission to Spain.
“What I learned as a missionary in those two years away are the foundation for everything that happens to me in my life,” he told reporters Tuesday at an MLB news conference.
After Spain, Guthrie was invited to join Stanford University’s baseball team. He started and pitched in the 2001 College World Series.
A Stanford coach and Guthrie’s family and friends from Oregon will reportedly be in attendance to watch his first ever World Series appearance. But facing Ishikawa, a fellow fourth-generation Japanese American in the World Series would be an ethnic milestone.
Ishikawa, who grew up in Washington, and whose grandparents were placed in a WWII internment camp, has been a post-season hero for San Francisco. His dramatic NLCS game 5 homer sent the Giants to the World Series.