Postseason baseball gives Asian Americans new role models

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It was the homerun that won the game for the San Francisco Giants and propelled them to the World Series.

The hit was made by a player who almost quit after a long rough slump in the minors - Travis Ishikawa.

Ishikawa means 'rock river' in Japanese. Ishikawa was the rock in Thursday night's game, and river was overflowing with excitement and emotions, especially for Asian American fans.

"I think he just grinded and stayed with it. And I think that's kind of the Japanese American experience," said Giants fan Lori Matoba.

An epic win, but especially exciting for Asian Americans. The heroics of one of their own won the game for the home team.

"Since I'm mostly Japanese, it just makes me feel really great," explained Naoki Matsuno, a young Giants fans.

"Hearing his story after the game, almost quitting baseball, how he was struggling a lot, was really inspirational to me," said Hunter Nguygen, another young Giants fan.

Ishikawa was born in Seattle. He's 31. He's a fourth generation Japanese American. He's had his ups and downs. Ishikawa's played for five teams. But last night's homer put him in the national spotlight in a sport where you rarely see a lot of Asian Americans.

"I was very surprised and I kept telling my dad how surprised I was," explained Madeline Woo.

But two Asian Americans were prominent players in this playoff series. The other is Kolten Wong. He was a big hitter for the St. Louis Cardinals. His game ending homer Sunday night instilled new life into the Cardinals.

The number of Asian American role models in major league baseball has just grown.

"Now there's Ichiro Suzuki, Kolten Wong and Travis Ishikawa. And I just feel really proud. I feel excited for them and happy for them," said Giants fan Izzy Tilles.

Twelve-year-old Jocelyn Wong summed it up well: "It makes me proud. It makes me inspired. It makes me want to go out and it motivates me."
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