August 29, 1946 |
|May 24, 1969, for the San Diego Padres|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 27, 1969, for the San Diego Padres|
|Runs batted in||9|
|Career highlights and awards|
John White Sipin (born August 29, 1946) is a former major league baseball player from Watsonville, California. He was a second baseman for the San Diego Padres. He also played nine seasons in Japan with the Taiyo Whales and Yomiuri Giants. He is of Filipino (Ilocano) and Caucasian ancestry.
John Sipin was born in Watsonville, California and is the son of Johnny Imperial Sipin, a Filipino of Ilocos origin and Ethel White, a native from Little Rock Arkansas, US. John grew up in Watsonville and went to Watsonville High School where his baseball jersey was retired in 2006. John is currently married to Gizelle Sipin (a local of Soquel, California) and together they have two daughters Alisha and Kamala.
Sipin played for the men's softball team of the Ilocos Region (Region I) in the Palarong Pambansa, the national student's games of the Philippines, in the 1970s. Sipin's team dominated the games and were known as the "Marcos Boys" since the regional softball program was supported by the Marcos political family.
Saint Louis Cardinals
Sipin was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 55th round of the 1965 amateur draft. He played four seasons in the Cardinals' minor league system, rising as high as the Triple-A Tulsa Oilers, with whom he opened the 1969 season. He was traded to the San Diego Padres on May 22, 1969 with Sonny Ruberto for the Padres' Jerry DaVanon and Bill Davis.
San Diego Padres
Following the trade, Sipin was promoted to the major leagues. Sipin played 68 games for the Padres that season, batting .223 with 12 doubles, two triples and two homers in 229 at bats. He also had 9 RBIs and 2 stolen bases that season. Sipin had 7 errors in the field, giving him a fielding percentage of 0.976 for 477 innings.
An interesting quirk to Sipin's major league career was that he hit a triple in each of his first two big league at bats, but never collected another three-base hit in the majors. On May 24, 1969, Sipin hit triples in the first and fourth innings off pitcher Ken Holtzman of the Chicago Cubs.
Following the 1969 season, Sipin returned to the minor leagues. He played the next two seasons with the Padres' top farm team, 1970 for the Salt Lake City Bees and 1971 for the Hawaii Islanders. Each year, he hit over .300 with exactly 20 home runs. However, he never got another shot at the major leagues.
Japanese Major League Baseball
Sipin signed with the Taiyo Whales (current Yokohama BayStars) in 1972, and instantly became one of the best second basemen in Japanese baseball during the 1970s. He played his best season in 1975, hitting 34 home runs and 82 RBIs, with a .295 batting average. He also won the Japanese golden glove award, being the first foreigner to be awarded the Golden Glove, in 1972 and 1973.
He was given to the Yomiuri Giants in 1978, and hit over .300 each of his full seasons with the Giants, often playing in the outfield instead of second base. He retired in 1980, after missing half of the season with an injury.
Sipin gained incredible popularity in Japan, and his huge mat of hair and beard gave him the nickname, Lion Maru (after the character in the children's television series Kaiketsu Lion-Maru). He was highly entertaining on and off the field, making entrances with extravagant outfits, or fielding ground balls with his batting helmet on. He drastically changed his appearance when he joined the Yomiuri Giants, shaving off his long hair and beard to adopt a gentleman-like look (similarly, Michihiro Ogasawara shaved off his trademark beard when he joined the Giants, though this was probably more in imitation of Johnny Damon and the New York Yankees).
Though Sipin changed his look when he joined the Giants, his wild personality did not change at all, especially because Clete Boyer, his coach and mentor on the Taiyo Whales, was no longer there to hold him back. In 1978, he charged at the mound after being hit by a pitch two times during the season, and was ejected both times after beating up the opposing pitcher. He had been ejected once with the Whales, but only for kicking sand onto the home plate after a disputed call.
- The editors of the Sporting News (1992). Baseball A Doubleheader Collection of Facts, Feats, & Firsts. St. Louis, Mo.: The Sporting News Publishing Co. ISBN 0-88365-785-6..