Four Questions for Sean Manaea, Baseball's Samoan-American No-Hit Man
On April 21, Sean Manaea of the Oakland Athletics became the 297th pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter, needing only 105 pitches to shut down the Boston Red Sox 3-0. The no-hitter has highlighted a quietly excellent start to the season for Manaea, a third-year left-hander who has been one of the American League's best pitchers in 2018.
Born and raised in Indiana, Manaea is only the second Samoan-American to play in the major leagues. He briefly caught up with Asia Blog to talk about his no-hitter, his upbringing in Indiana, and whether he feels like a pioneer.
It’s been a little over a week since you’ve thrown a no-hitter. Has it sunk in yet?
For the most part, it has. It’s a really cool accomplishment, but there’s still a lot of work to do this season, so I'm trying not to dwell on it. I’ll be able to reflect in the offseason — that’s when I think it’ll sink in how cool it was.
You grew up in a small town in Indiana. How in touch were you as a kid about your Samoan heritage?
My dad worked really long hours while we were growing up, and he didn’t fully retire until I was 12 or 13. He also hadn't been to Samoa for a really long time and may have forgotten some traditions, so we didn't really have a lot to go on. We were the only people I knew who were Polynesian in Indiana, so it wasn’t like we had a chance to connect with other Samoans in the community.
Have you had a chance to connect with the Samoan community in the Bay Area or elsewhere since your career has started?
I haven’t yet, but it’s something that I’d love to be more proactive about. That’s something I’m going to have to start doing more of, seeking out people to talk to. It’s something I’m planning on doing.
There have been high-profile Polynesian NFL players, like Junior Seau and Troy Polamalu, but comparatively few in baseball. Do you feel like a pioneer?
Not really. I’m just a normal person making a living on the field.