Thursday, October 8, 2015

Satoshi Nakajima

Long time Fighters catcher/coach Satoshi Nakajima has retired - the Fighters did his retirement ceremony on October 1.

Nakajima was drafted out of high school at age 17 in the third round of the fall 1986 draft by the Hankyu Braves.  He is, as Jim Allen is fond of mentioning, the last Hankyu Brave still playing.  As far as I can tell, there are no contemporary cards of him with Hankyu - his first card is with the Orix Braves in 1989.  The only card I've found showing him with Hankyu is from the 2014 BBM Brilliant Teenagers set:

2014 BBM Brilliant Teenagers #077
One odd piece of trivia I learned while researching this post - Nakajima hit the final home run in Hankyu Braves history on October 23, 1988.  This was also the final game for Hall Of Famers Hisashi Yamada and Yutaka Fukumoto of the Braves.  I found a YouTube clip of the home run that I can't embed - the home run is around the 5 minute 40 second mark.

Nakajima played for Hankyu/Orix from 1987 through 1997.  He moved to Seibu as a free agent following the 1997 season and was Daisuke Matsuzaka's designated catcher during Matsuzaka's rookie season in 1999.  He was traded to the Baystars following the 2002 season and then sold to the Fighters after only one season in Yokohama.  By 2007, he was a player-coach for Nippon Ham, spending most of his time with the ni-gun team.

1990 Lotte #36

1993 Tomy #104

2000 BBM #68

2003 BBM 1st Version #166

2008 BBM 1st Version #229
Nakajima's best years were with Orix in the late 80's/early 90's.  He made the 1995 PL Best 9 team and won a Golden Glove in 1989.  He made the All Star team six times - 1989-91, 1995-96 and 1999 (with Seibu).

1996 BBM All Stars #A38
He played in seven Nippon Series for three different teams - 1995 and 1996 with Orix, 1998 and 2002 with Seibu and 2006, 2007 and 2009 with Nippon Ham.  He won the Series twice - Orix in 1996 and Nippon Ham in 2006.

1996 BBM Nippon Series #S13

2009 BBM Nippon Series #S44
I was kind of surprised to see how few cards I have for someone who has had such a long career.  According to my database, I only have 41 cards of Nakajima, much less than I have for a couple guys whose careers started around the same time like Motonobu Tanishige (113 cards) or Masahiro Yamamoto (99 cards).  I think the main reason for that is that Nakajima has spent much of his post-Orix career as either a backup catcher or with the ni-gun team.  He hadn't appeared in a BBM flagship set since 2008 until this year's 2nd Version set so frankly he simply hasn't had that many cards.  For the last few years he has mostly appeared in BBM's Fighters team set, which I have not been getting until this year:

2015 BBM Fighters #F39

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