Sunday, July 6, 2008

Card Of The Week July 6

I was talking to someone this week about the upcoming Olympics and how former Orioles manager Davey Johnson was the manager of the USA baseball team. I brought up the fact that Johnson played for the Yomiuri Giants for two year (1975-76) and didn't have a very good time. Johnson was the first gaijin on the Giants for something like 15 years (I think the last before him was Wally Yonamine in 1960) and was taking over at third base from the guy who was now his manager - Shigeo Nagashima. Plus the Giants had just missed the Japan Series for the first time in 10 years. No pressure there. Robert Whiting's "You Gotta Have Wa" devotes part of a chapter to Johnson's experiences. I won't repeat it here, but suffice it to say that things did not go well.

Anyway, I was thinking that Nagashima was supposed to be the manager of the Japanese Olympic team in 2004, but had to bow out after suffering a stroke that spring. So I wonder if he hadn't had the stroke, he'd have managed the team this year as well, leading to an interesting backdrop to the Japanese-USA games. There's still a little interesting backdrop - according to Japan Baseball Daily, Johnson's first at bat in Japan resulted in a four pitch strikeout. The opposing pitcher? Senichi Hoshino, manager of the 2008 Japanese Olympic baseball team.

Here's Johnson's 1975/76 Calbee card (#675):

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