Saturday, October 5, 2013

Former Teammates

I had pointed out this card (#86) from this year's All Star Game Memories 80's set from BBM when I wrote up the set a few weeks back.  It features Masahiro Doi and three players who are labelled former teammates - Akinobu Mayumi, Yoshiharu Wakana and Mitsui Motoi.  I got curious to see when these guys were teammates and why they weren't anymore.  It turns out that they were all teammates with the Lions in the late 1970's.

2013 BBM The Trade Stories #15
Masahiro Doi was originally signed by the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1961.  He was traded to the then Taiheiyo Club Lions in the 1974-75 off season for (I think) pitcher Yutaka Yanagida.  He would finish his career with the new Seibu Lions following the 1981 season.

2010 BBM Lions 60th Anniversary #71

Akinobu Mayumi was drafted by the Taiheiyo Club Lions in 1972.  By 1977 he was an everyday player for the now Crown Lighter Lions and by 1978 he was a star, making both the All Star squad and the Best 9 team for the first time.

2008 BBM Back To The 70's #058

Yoshiharu Wakana was drafted in by the Lions a year earlier than Mayumi.  He also became a regular for the Lions in 1977, making his first All Star team that year.  

Following the 1978 season, the Lions were bought by the Seibu corporation, who moved the team from Fukuoka to a new ballpark in Tokorozawa near Tokyo.  The new ownership wanted to acquire a "flagship" player and did so by sending Mayumi, Wakana, Masashi Takenouchi, Masafumi Takeda and 20 million yen to the Tigers in a blockbuster trade for Kenji Furusawa and perennial All Star Koichi Tabuchi,   

Mayumi would spend the rest of his career with Hanshin, retiring after the 1995 season.  He would go on to manage the Tigers for three seasons from 2009 to 2011.

Wakana had a little more interesting career following the trade,  He played for the Tigers for four years after the trade, resigning halfway through the 1982 season when it became public knowledge that he was having an affair with an actress.

Bizarrely, 1983 saw him start the season in the United States as a coach with the New York Mets' AAA team in Norfolk, Virginia which was known as the Tidewater Tides.  (And before you ask - yes, there's a card of him in the 1983 TCMA set for the Tides - and even better, there's a scan of the card available on the web courtesy of Jason).  Partway through the season he went back to Japan and joined the Yokohama Taiyo Whales.  He would spent six seasons with the Whales before heading to the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1989.  He retired following the 1991 season.  He went back to Fukuoka to coach for the Hawks from 1997 to 2001 and ended up again embroiled in controversy when he admitted to ordering pitchers to pitch around Tuffy Rhodes as he didn't want a foreigner to break Sadaharu Oh's single season home run record.

2010 Epoch All Japan Baseball Foundation 1977 #35
Mitsuo Motoi was signed as an undrafted player by the then Nishitetsu Lions in 1967.  He made a couple All Star teams and at least one Best 9 team during his years with the Lions but his tenure with the team was marked by his involvement with the "Black Mist Scandal" that rocked professional baseball in Japan between 1969 and 1971.  He was given a "severe warning" - the lightest penalty of a game fixing scandal that resulted in several players being banned for life.  He played for the Lions until Seibu bought the team in 1978.  I have not been able to determine if they simply released him or if they traded him, but either way, Motoi was a Yokohama Taiyo Whale in 1979.  He played for the Whales until he retired following the 1984 season.  He later coached with both the Whales and the Fighters.

Motoi is unique among the four players on the card in that he does not appear on a separate card in the All Star Memories 80's set.  I wonder if the reason that the card is labeled "Masahiro Doi & Former Teammates" is that they didn't get permission to use Motoi on a card but they can get away with using a picture of him as long as they don't identify him.  There's some precedence for this - the card of Wakana in the set clearly shows Warren Cromartie (who's not in the set) and Senichi Hoshino is pretty clearly visible on a "Dragon's History" card in the Dragons 75th Anniversary set from a few years back when he does not have a card in the set.

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