Propelled by Ishikawa, Giants Prepare for Game 1 of World Series

Image: World Series Media Day & Workout
Travis Ishikawa #45 of the San Francisco Giants during the 2014 World Series Media Day at Kauffman Stadium on October 20, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. Elsa / Getty Images

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Outfielder Travis Ishikawa thrilled fans last week when his three-run homer at the bottom of the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals sent his San Francisco Giants to the World Series.

Throughout the postseason the 31-year old has been credited for being a key part of the Giants' success. "Ishy has been a savior for us,'' manager Bruce Bochy told USA Today. As Ishikawa gets ready to take the field for Game 1 of the World Series tonight, we’ve compiled 5 things you need to know about him.

Travis Ishikawa #45 of the San Francisco Giants during the 2014 World Series Media Day at Kauffman Stadium on October 20, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.Elsa / Getty Images
(1) He met his wife at his dentist’s office.

As a minor leaguer in California, he was hit in the face by a pitch and was sent to a dentist to make sure there wasn’t any permanent damage. During his visit he immediately noticed his now-wife Rochelle, who was a dental assistant. “I saw her and saw how beautiful she was. I couldn't eve make eye contact with her,” he told the Baltimore Sun last year. “I was too scared to talk to her. I didn't say anything to her that day.” The pair finally did manage to have a conversation during a follow up visit and married in 2007. They have 3 children.

(2) He is third-generation Japanese American.

Ishikawa is half-Japanese through his father and can trace his family’s history in the United States to the building of the railroads, which his great-grandfather helped build.

Travis Ishikawa is interviewed after the Giants defeat the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Five of the National League Championship Series on October 16, 2014.Christian Petersen / Getty Images
(3) His grandparents were sent to an internment camp during World War II.

During World War II, the Ishikawas were among the hundreds of Japanese American families sent to internment camps by President Franklin Roosevelt just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The star player has said that they didn’t talk much about their experience living in a Colorado camp during the war. “They never give you an opening to talk about it,” heexplained to “My father has never talked about it. I think it’s a cultural thing. There are some things you just don’t talk about.”

(4) He just got his now-famous home run ball back.

After hitting the home run that sent his team to the World Series, Ishikawa expressed interest in getting the ball back. Lifelong Giants fan Frank Burke, who caught it, was happy to oblige."I believe in karma," Burke told The Associated Press in an interview. "I didn't hit that ball ....if anybody's going to have that ball in their game room or trophy case, it's going to be the guy who hit it." In exchange, Ishikawa gave Burke a signed bat and two tickets to a World Series game.

(5) Ishikawa seriously contemplated retirement earlier this year.

His journey to the postseason has been a long and winding one. Over the past few years Ishikawa has bounced from the majors to the minors and struggled with injuries -- leading him to wonder if it was all worth it. "Any time you struggle in the minor leagues at my age, more so this year, you wonder about that," he recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It goes back to needing to persevere. As much as I hated going through it, it's made me a better man for going through it."

Travis Ishikawa reacts after hitting a walk-off three-run home run in the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in San Francisco.Chris Lee / AP