The Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels have played almost 60 seasons of baseball. As the baseball world is suspended due to circumstances outside its control, it is time to look back at the history of this organization. There have been many talented players to put on the uniform, and we at Crashing the Pearly Gates wish to highlight the best who have ever represented the Angels. Without further ado, here we go!
The Angels purchased the contract of Shigetoshi Hasegawa from Orix in the Japanese league in 1997. This was a trendy thing to do after the success of Hideo Nomo had put to rest that a Japanese player couldn’t thrive in the MLB.
Shiggy started off as a starter, sucked, but then found his role in the Anaheim bullpen. By the end of that first MLB season he was a fixture there and would only have a single spot start over the rest of what became a nine-year career.
Shiggy’s best seasons were his shutdown 1998 and 2000 – he pitched 97+ and 95+ innings with an ERA + of 152 and 145 respectively. For an Angels middle reliever these numbers aren’t Shields or Donnelly but they are enough to get him listed here in the high 80s on our Top 100 countdown.
As far as the team culture goes, The Angels went all out in hyping Shiggy on the Jumbotron. Prior to the Angels renovating the post-Rams Anaheim Stadium, blasting rock music after a homerun and making a big deal out of a pitcher’s entrance with a theme song were minor league hypings. Shiggy was the big signing and he entered each game under a hyper introduction video of Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It” while the jumbotron insisted the lyrics were “Gettin’ Shiggy Wit’ It”. It worked. It was ahead of its time. It was memorable and made Shiggy just a little bigger star in Anaheim than his numbers alone might have asserted.
That he was an All Star for the Mariners in 2003 stings less with that 2002 ring of ours he missed out on. To this day, no Angels fan of a certain age can hear “Jiggy” and not smile with a memory of 9,000 fans screaming to the entrance of Shiggy under the lights of Edison International Field of Anaheim.
The late great Bob Sheppard (longtime Yankees Public Address announcer) was asked what his favorite player name was to announce over the PA system. His answer : Shigetoshi Hasegawa. It was long, drawn out, with every syllable underlined, and it was beautiful. I heard him say it back at the old Yankee Stadium when I took in a Sunday daygame in 2001.
Shiggy! One of the few late 90s Angels pitchers that were worth watching outside of Finley and Percival.
Does anyone remember if the Angels tried to retain him, or did Seattle just have a better offer?
I liked this tidbit from Wikipedia:
“Hasegawa is rumored to have been the only Major League player ever to read the Wall Street Journal in the locker room. Teammate Ichiro Suzuki commented jokingly that Hasegawa tried to talk to teammates about stocks and business during practice sessions.”
They let him go as a cost-cutting move.
I remember getting Shiggy wit it, on numerous occasions back in the day. Doesn’t seem like it’s been over twenty years.