Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tatsuhiko Kinjoh

As we continue to wind down the list of players who retired at the end of the 2015 season, we reach Tatsuhiko Kinjoh of the Giants.  Kinjoh was drafted as a pitcher by the Yokohama Baystars in the fifth round of the 1998 draft from Sumitomo Metals of the industrial leagues.  The Baystars immediately converted him to an infielder however.  He played in a handful of games with the ichi-gun team in late 1999 but an injury to Tatsuya Shindoh in 2000 pushed him into the starting third baseman role.  He lead the Central League in batting (becoming the first "true" rookie to ever do so) and was named Rookie Of The Year.  He was moved to the outfield in 2001 due to his defensive shortcomings in the infield (he made 12 errors in 2000) and remained in the outfield the rest of his career.  He slumped significantly in the next two seasons, finishing below the Mendoza line with a .170 average in 2002.  He recovered in 2003, however, hitting over .300 again and making an All Star team for the first time.  He made the All Star team again in 2005 (wining a game MVP award) and 2006.  He also won Golden Glove awards in 2005 and 2007.  He was a bench player for the Japanese National Team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  As he was drafted by the Baystars just after they made their last appearance in the Nippon Series, it goes without saying that he never played in one.

He left the Baystars for the Giants as a free agent (I think) following the 2014 season.  He spent much of the 2015 season with the farm team, only getting into 36 games (and hitting .233) with the top team.  He will be the Giants san-gun hitting coach next year.

1999 BBM #295

2008 BBM Yokohama 30th Anniversary #97

2001 BBM #28

2004 BBM Baystars #YB59

2006 BBM All Stars #A64

2007 Konami Baseball Heroes Black Edition #B07B237

2011 BBM 2nd Version #667

2013 Calbee #188

2014 Front Runner Baystars Rookies & Young Stars #02

2015 BBM 1st Version #184
One interesting thing about Kinjoh is that his father Akiyo pitched in Kintetsu's organization for a couple years in the late 1960's.  He appeared in one game with the top team in 1968 - but as an outfielder.  He did not get a plate appearance in the game.  It kind of reminds me of Moonlight Graham from "Field Of Dreams".

Card Of The Week November 22

The inaugural Premier 12 wrapped up yesterday with Korea defeating the US in the gold medal game.  Many would say, however, that the championship game was really last Thursday when Korea rallied from a 3-0 deficit to score four runs in the top of the ninth to upset previously undefeated Japan.  Yesterday's games seem just an afterthought with Japan demolishing Mexico 11-1 in the bronze medal game and Korea downing the US 8-0 in the gold medal game.

The tournament awards were announced after the final game and Korean outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim was named MVP.  Unsurprisingly, Kim was also named to the tournament's  "All World Team" which is the second time he's made such a team in an international tournament - he also made the team for the 2009 WBC.

It's been a good fall for Kim as the team he plays for in his day job, the Doosan Bears, were KBO champions.  Here's a couple Korean cards of him:

2010 KBO "Game set" #AD-003

2014 Super Star Baseball Season One #SBC01-016

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Some 1990's Era Packaging

I wanted to do a quick note about an Ebay auction I won recently.  This auction included most of a box of 1992 BBM Series One (16 out of the original 20 packs) along with seven unopened packs of 1990 Lotte cards.

1992 was the only year that BBM ever split their flagship set up into multiple Series.  The 498 card set was split into two 249 card Series.  The box I picked up was for Series One (I already had a box for Series Two).  I already have the complete 1992 set so I'm not going to do a box break for this box but just so you know, each pack has 10 cards in it.  I opened one pack just to see what kind of promo material was in it.

Box top


Promo included in pack
The 1990 Lotte cards had one card per pack.  The packs also included two sticks of gum.  I will not be attempting to chew any pieces of 25 year old gum (although for what's worth, the gum still bends).

Lotte wrapper

I'll be updating my post on the 1992 set with the additional packaging images.  If anyone is interested in buying 15 unopened 1992 BBM Series One packs (plus the contents of the one I opened) dirt cheap, let me know.

Kazuyuki Hoashi

Another player who retired at the end of 2015 was pitcher Kazuyuki Hoashi of the Hawks.  He was originally drafted by the Lions in the third round of the 2000 draft from Mitsubishi Motors of the industrial leagues.  He was a member of the Lions starting rotation between 2003 and 2011.  His best season was probably 2008 when he went 11-6 with a 2.63 ERA.  He left the Lions for Fukuoka as a free agent after the 2011 season.  He missed most of 2012 due to a shoulder injury.  He pitched fairly regularly for the Hawks in 2013 and 2014 but spent most of 2015 with the farm team.  He made the All Star team in 2005 and 2008 and pitched in Nippon Series for the Lions in 2004 and 2008.  I don't think he appeared with the Hawks in either the 2014 or 2015 Series.

2001 BBM #424

2004 BBM Nippon Series #13

2005 BBM All Stars #A17

2006 BBM 2nd Version #557

2011 BBM 2nd Version #480

2011 BBM Lions Classic #54

2012 Calbee #076

2014 Hawks Players Card

2015 BBM Hawks #H23

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Keiichi Hirano

Orix Buffaloes second baseman Keiichi Hirano retired at the end of the season.  Hirano was drafted by the then Orix Blue Wave in the "free agent acquisition frame" of the 2001 NPB draft out of Tokai University.  He became the regular second baseman for Orix in 2004 and made the All Star team for the first time in 2005 before a major injury caused by a collision with a fence chasing a foul ball caused him to miss most of the 2006 season.  After not performing particularly well in 2007, Orix traded him (along with Kenta Abe) to the Hanshin Tigers for Makoto Yoshino and Osamu Hamanaka.  He quickly recovered with the Tigers, winning the Comeback Player award in 2008.  He made the All Star team three times (2010-12), the Best 9 team twice (2010-11) and won Golden Glove awards twice (2010-11).  He left the Tigers as a free agent following the 2012 season and returned to Orix.  He's missed time in two of the past three seasons due to a calf injury.  Now that he's retired, he'll be returning to the Tigers to be a coach with their ni-gun team.

2002 BBM 1st Version #288

2003 Calbee #J-12

2004 Calbee #188

2005 BBM 1st Version #191

2006 BBM 1st Version #128

2008 BBM 1st Version #096

2012 BBM 1st Version #371

2012 Calbee #AS-17

2013 Front Runner Buffaloes Season Summary #21

2015 BBM 1st Version #041
Hirano was known for his head first slides, which BBM featured on several of his cards:

2008 BBM 2nd Version #578

2011 BBM 1st Version #204

2012 BBM 1st Version #258

Monday, November 16, 2015

Card Of The Week November 15

Sho Nakata has had quite a good week in the Premier 12.

On Wednesday, Nakata homered and drove in five of Japan's six runs (including the winning run on a sayonora hit) in their 6-5 win over Mexico.  On Thursday, he drove in three of Japan's four runs when they beat the Domincan Republic 4-2.  On Saturday, his three run home run broke a 2-2 tie in a game that Japan ultimately won 10-2 over the US (Japan's scoring was capped by a grand slam by Nobuhiro Matsuda).  And in a crazy game against Venezuela on Sunday, he hit a two run double in the bottom of the eighth to put Japan up 4-3 in a game that saw two blown saves in the ninth inning.  He was on deck when Akira Nakamura singled in the game winner in the bottom of the ninth.  Through the end of Sunday's game, he's hitting .526 with two home runs and 13 RBIs.

I don't normally go for memorabilia cards but I had an opportunity to pick up a couple cheap on Ebay recently.  Here's Nakata's jersey card from the 2012 BBM Fighters set (#FM1):

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Akihito Fujii

Another face in the crowd of players who retired at the end of the 2015 season belongs to Akihito Fujii of the Hanshin Tigers.  Fujii was taken in the second round of the 1998 draft out of Kinki University by the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes.  He was a backup catcher during his time with Kintetsu.  He made his first Nippon Series appearance with the Buffaloes in their losing effort against the Swallows in 2001.  He was let go when Orix and Kintetsu "merged" following the 2004 season and he ended up with the expansion Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in their inaugural season of 2005.  He was the starting catcher for the Eagles in 2005 and 2006 but moved back to a backup role when Motohiro Shima joined the team in 2007.  He moved on to the Tigers for the 2011 season - ostensibly to back up Kenji Johjima but he ended up being thrust into a larger role when Johjima was hurt and ineffective.  He made the All Star team for the first and only time in 2013, his last year in the starting catcher role.  He again played in a Nippon Series in 2014, appearing in all five games for the Tigers as they lost to the Hawks.

1999 BBM #490

2001 BBM Nippon Series #S43

2004 BBM Kintetsu Memorial #K17

2005 BBM 1st Version #224

2006 BBM 1st Version #192

2009 BBM Eagles #E034

2012 Calbee #133

2013 BBM 2nd Version #527

2015 BBM Tigers #T38

I used his Baseball Reference Bullpen wiki entry as a source for my writeup - I need to remember to use those as a resource more.  Mischa Gelman has done great work writing up bios of NPB players there.