Who is The Panda?
If you were anywhere near any type of social media Wednesday night, it was impossible to ignore the name Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval joined the likes of Babe Ruth, Albert Pujols, and Reggie Jackson in the record books by hitting three home runs in just one World Series game, helping the San Francisco Giants to a 8-3 win over the Detroit Tigers.
But there’s something about Sandoval that might be even cooler than his three homers, and that’s his nickname. The “Kung Fu Panda” was named as such by pitcher Barry Zito. Back when Sandoval was catching for Zito, he scored a run against the Los Angeles Dodgers by jumping over Dodgers’ catcher Danny Ardoin. The acrobatic move and Sandoval’s pudgy shape made him The Panda.
Before the 2011 season, the Giants launched “Operation Panda.” It was a project to get Sandoval into shape and essentially lose a little bit of his panda pounds. It worked out for the Giants, as Sandoval dropped over 30 pounds and improved his game.
In July of 2011 he was selected to the National League All-Star team and helped the NL team knock out the American League All-Stars with an RBI ground-rule double in his first at bat. He returned to the All-Star Game in 2012 and again helped the NL to the win, this time with an RBI triple.
Sandoval was called up to the Majors on August 13, 2008 and has played his entire major-league career for the Giants. Originally from Venezuela, Sandoval blesses himself after each hit and had plenty of opportunity to do so Wednesday night.