John Sipin was born on Thursday, August 29, 1946, in Watsonville, California. Sipin was 22 years old when he broke into the big leagues on May 24, 1969, with the San Diego Padres. His biographical data, year-by-year hitting stats, fielding stats, pitching stats (where applicable), career totals, uniform numbers, salary data and miscellaneous items-of-interest are presented by Baseball Almanac on this comprehensive John Sipin baseball stats page.
"The Padres have big plans for Sipin. They traded to get him because they've been suffering from light-hitting, poor fielding infielders. 'We have good reports on Sipin,' says Padre field manager Preston Gomez , 'and we're hoping he's the second baseman we've been looking for.' Padre coach George "Sparky" Anderson , who managed Sipin in 1967, while he was playing for Modesto of the California League, had good words for Sipin: 'I never saw an infielder with a better arm.'" - Columnist John Lindsay in The Santa Cruz Sentinel (Athlete's Feat, May 25, 1969, 'Sipin Finds Home With Padres', Page 13)
John Sipin Pitching Stats
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John Sipin Hitting Stats
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John Sipin Miscellaneous Stats
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Did you know that John Sipin hit two triples in his first Major League game placing his name into the Triples Record book for Most Triples in First Game Ever ? Sipin went 2-4 on May 24, 1969 , collecting three baggers in the first and fourth innings off pitcher Ken Holtzman . He was only the second National League player (1st: Willie McCovey , July 30, 1959 ) in history with two triples during a debut, and the fourth overall in Major League history.
John Sipin | San Diego Padres Press Photo | Photoshop by Baseball Almanac, Inc.
John Sipin had a brief Major League career with with San Diego Padres (see picture above), but went on to become a Japanese Central League All-Star five times (1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1979), a recipient of the Best Nine Award twice (1972 & 1973), and he won two Japanese Gold Gloves (1972 & 1973). Sports writer Jim Seimas wrote an amazing piece about Sipin's time in Japan (02/06/2011, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 'Ex-baseball star Sipin recalls his celebrity in Japan', link ):
SOQUEL -- John Sipin shined for nine seasons of professional baseball in Japan. There, he was a giant, figuratively and literally.
Standing 6-foot-2, Sipin often bumped his head on the ceilings and beams in most dugouts and other low-hanging objects inside the stadium. To avoid injury, Sipin, a 1964 Watsonville High grad, opted to wear a plastic, ear-less batting helmet everywhere he went when he was at the ballpark.
Outlandish? Fans thought he was a kook. The Japanese also adored Sipin, who played for the Taiyo Whales [1972-77] and Yomiuri Giants [1978-80] after a short stint with the San Diego Padres in 1969. A five-time all-star, Sipin won two Best Nine awards and two Gold Gloves at second base in Japan, compiling a .297 average in 3,779 at-bats. He was a middle infielder with pop, smacking 218 career home runs with .536 career slugging mark.
"I gave them my best," Sipin said.
Now 64, Sipin, who lives in Soquel and works in real estate with his wife, fondly recalls his memories abroad. There's enough of them that he's considering writing a book.
As Aptos' Carlos Torres heads to Japan for his first season with the Yomiuri Giants, Sipin -- a longtime fan of Torres' -- recalls the frenzy that is Japanese baseball.
"He's on the right team," Sipin said of the Giants, Japan's version of the New York Yankees. "They're the No. 1 team as far as drawing a fan base. It's so difficult to get tickets. They sell out every game, home and away."
In the 1970s, Sipin became a well-known figure not just for his play, but also for his attire. He often wore jackets with wide lapels and bell-bottom pants. Mix that with a grove of facial hair and Sipin stood out.
"In the '70s, Japan was a black-and-blue country," Sipin said. "Everyone had a black suit or a blue suit. And they all had clean-shaven heads. I came in there with longer hair and a short, but full, beard. ... Sometimes I had a handlebar mustache and that grew into the beard and sideburns."
When he cut his hair, Taiyo officials told him they preferred his wild side and encouraged him to grow it back. When he did, he was given the nickname "Lion Maru" after the animated title character in the children's television series "Kaiketsu Lion-Maru." [see picture below]
Conversely, when Sipin joined the Yomiuri Giants, he was forced to drastically change his appearance.
"The exposure there is so much more," Sipin said. "Every game is like a World Series game with the fans and media. And it's on TV on two stations."
Sipin said he kept his own company while abroad.
"Three years I was there, I was the only foreigner on the team," he said. "I was pretty much a loner. You can't be a heavy duty talker and survive there."
Sipin eventually became fluent in Japanese. Still, he enjoyed his privacy.
"I could do whatever I wanted in Japan because of how I performed," he said of his stardom. "I had to go to the back of the restaurant and face a wall because I was so recognized there by the fans. There's nowhere to hide. The [media] will print everything negative against a foreigner and he probably won't see it coming because it's in Japanese."
Sipin said thousands of fans often lined up outside stadiums as players entered. Sipin started wearing jeans and white T-shirts to games because the aggressive, pen-toting autograph-seekers left him covered in ink after he walked by.
He estimates he has been invited back to Japan 10 to 15 times since his retirement from baseball to participate in the legends game at the Tokyo Dome. He last went there two years ago.
"They love baseball there," Sipin said. "You can't go into a taxi without hearing a baseball game on."
Kaiketsu Lion-Maru | P-Pro Tokusatsu TV Jidaigeki Ninja Toy
The first home run Johnny Sipin hit occurred during extra innings (10th) off Montreal Expos reliever Dan McGinn on May 30, 1969 , in Parc Jerry (Montreal, Canada). It was the deciding run of the game and continued the misery north of the border due to it resulting in the fourteenth consecutive loss for the Expos . Sipin went deep once more with The Friars , on June 27, 1969 , another solo shot, future Hall of Famer Don Sutton served up the long ball and it was Black & Decker's 50th (of 472) home run allowed in his career.