Friday, April 26, 2013

Tokyo Big Six Perfect Games

Deanna Rubin had a post up the other day talking about a perfect game thrown last Sunday (the 21st) in the Tokyo Big Six collegiate baseball league by Yuhei Takanashi of Waseda against perennially hapless Tokyo.

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #27
Takanashi's feat was the third perfect game ever thrown in the Tokyo Big Six league.  Deanna mentioned that the most recent one before this one was thrown by Rikkio's Satoshi Kamishige in 2000. Kamishige went on to be a TV announcer instead of a professional baseball player, but he does have a card in the 2011 BBM Legend Of Tokyo Big Six historic set:

2011 BBM Legend Of Tokyo Big Six #075
So that's two perfect games.  But who threw the other?  Being Japanese language challenged, I wasn't sure what the best way to figure this out would be (other than ask Deanna :-)).  Then I noticed this red text on the back of Kamishige's card:

I wondered if that was the kanji for "perfect game".  I took a look around to see if I could find any way to easily verify this.  In 1994, BBM did a small set celebrating all the perfect games ever thrown in Japan after Hiromi Makihara thrown one for the Giants.  I noticed that the back of one of the cards had a picture of the scoreboard after Makihara's game - sure enough, those four kanji appeared:

1994 BBM Perfect Pitching #P16 Back
So then I went through the other cards in the Legend Of Tokyo Big Six set to see if anyone else had that text on the back of their card (and there should be no more than one).  I found it on the card for a pitcher for Keio in the early 1960's named Taisuke Watanabe, who later pitched for Nankai from 1965 to 1972.  The line indicated that he pitched the perfect game in 1964.  I checked out his bio over at Japan Baseball Daily's Data Warehouse and verified it - he threw the game on 5/17/1964 against Rikkio.

2011 BBM Legend Of Tokyo Big Six #023
Watanabe's career falls perfectly into the black hole for Japanese baseball cards between the end of the menko era in 1964 and the beginning of the Calbee era in 1973.  The only card (other than this one) of him that I'm aware of off hand is from the 1967 Kabaya-Leaf set (#303).


Fuji said...

Great detective work & awesome cards too!

Deanna said...

Oh, sorry, I was just too lazy to post about Watanabe too. You could have just asked :) has all of that stuff in Japanese. May 17, 1964 against Rikkio, 1-0 game, 2nd game in the series, he threw 82 pitches, 11 groundouts, 4 IF flies, 5 OF flies, 7 strikeouts.

NPB Card Guy said...

Fuji - Thanks. Deanna - I can't ALWAYS ask you. Besides, it was fun trying to figure it out for myself. Especially when I got the right answer. (Honestly, I had half the post written before it occurred to me to check my answer with Japan Baseball Daily. I'd have really felt like an idiot if I'd come up with the wrong guy.)