Monday, October 14, 2013

Kazuhisa Ishii

I'd been holding off on post for a couple of players who had retired at the end of the season while their teams were still playing in the post-season but I've realized now that the remaining players aren't on the roster for their teams anyway so it doesn't matter that much.  It matters even less for Kazuhisa Ishii as his team got eliminated today.

Ishii was a first round pick of the Yakult Swallows in the 1992 draft out of high school.  His rookie card was #464 from the 1992 BBM set.  He also had a card in that year's Takara Swallows set.  His first Calbee card didn't come until 1998 (#039).

1992 BBM #464

1998 Calbee #039

Ishii spent 10 eventful years in his initial stint with the Swallows.  He had some control issues as well as some injury issues before he left for the majors via the posting system following the 2001 season.

1993 Tomy #279

2000 Upper Deck Ovation #76

Following four seasons in the US with the Dodgers and the Mets, Ishii returned to Japan in 2006.  Ishii's manager for most of the 1990's, Katusya Nomura, had taken over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and attempted to woo Ishii to Sendai.  Ultimately Ishii decided to return to Yakult where his former battery mate, Atsuya Furuta, had become player-manager.

2006 Konami Baseball Heroes 2 Black Edition #B06B183

Ishii only remained with the Swallows for two more seasons.  I'm not positive, but I think he left the Swallows as a free agent (rather than got released) and signed on with the Lions where he has spent the remainder of his career.

2008 BBM 2nd Version #692

2013 Calbee #044

Ishii had an interesting career.  He ended up with 2115 strikeouts, good enough for 14th overall, along with a record of 143-103.  He lead the league in strikeouts twice (1998 & 2000) and ERA once (2000).  He threw a no-hitter against the Baystars in 1997.

2009 BBM 1st Version #465 (for win #100)

2012 BBM Lions #L83

2001 BBM #20

2012 BBM No-Hitters #74

Surprisingly, Ishii only made one All Star team in his 18 years in NPB - in 1999.

1999 BBM All Stars #A21

It's easy to forget now, but the Swallows of the 1990's were a powerhouse team, appearing in five Nippon Series between 1992 and 2001 and winning four of them.  Ishii appeared in all five Series, winning "Outstanding Player" Awards in the 1997 and 2001 Classics (assuming they call the Nippon Series the "Fall Classic" in Japan).  He also appeared in the 2008 Nippon Series with the Lions.

2001 BBM Nippon Series #S3

2008 BBM Nippon Series #S12

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