Monday, May 18, 2009

Hideki Irabu

Old news now, but a couple of weeks ago the Long Beach Aramada of the independent Golden Baseball League announced that they had signed former Lotte and Hanshin pitcher Hideki Irabu to a contract. Irabu is now 39 and hasn't pitched since 2004, so it'll be interesting to see what happens. For his sake, I hope he's more successful than the last high profile player to attempt a comback with the Armada - Jose Canseco in 2006.

Anyway, in honor of his return to the States, I thought I'd do a quick run down of his cards. Irabu broke in with the (then) Lotte Orions in 1988. He has a card in the Takara Orions set for that year, but not the Calbee set. Curiously, it looks to me that he doesn't have a Calbee card until 1994. His first BBM card in in their initial set in 1991. (Which brings up a question - which of these should be considered his rookie card? I would think it would be only his 1988 Takara card. But by that reasoning, Hideo Nomo only has one rookie card - his 1990 Takara card, not the 1991 BBM and Calbee cards. And the 1994 Calbee cards of Ichiro Suzuki are not rookie cards. Does this make sense?) He's in BBM All Star sets in 1994-96 and 2003 along with the 2003 BBM Nippon Series set. He also appears in the 1990 Lotte Gum set, the 1991 Q Card set and both the 1993 and 1994 Tomy sets. And he shows up in last year's BBM Lotte 40th Anniversary set. (As always, these are just the highlights, not a comprehensive list.)

Here's some cards:

From the top, that's his 1990 Takara Orions cards, his 1991 BBM card (#277), his 1994 Calbee Hokkaido Version card (#C-13) and his 2003 BBM Victory Road Prologue box set card (#14).

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