Sunday, May 15, 2016

RIP Mikio Kudoh

Former Nippon-Ham Fighters pitcher Mikio Kudoh has passed away from liver failure at age 55.  Kudoh was drafted out of high school by the Fighters in second round of the fall 1978 draft.  He debuted with the ichi-gun team in 1979, going 0-1 with one start in three appearances.  He spent the entire 1980 season with the ni-gun team and lead the Eastern League in wins.  He returned to the top team in 1981 and went 2-9 during the regular season - but then he matched that win total in the Nippon Series that season, winning Games One and Three in relief (the only two games the Fighters would win in the Series).  He had by far his best season in 1982, going 20-4 with an ERA of 2.10.  Those 20 wins lead the Pacific League that year and he was named to both the All Star team and the Best 9 team for the only time in his career.  He suffered a finger injury late in the season but was still available to pitch in the Pacific League playoffs* against the Lions - getting the win in Game Three (which was the only win the Fighters would have in the Series) and winning the "Fighting Spirit" award (basically the MVP for the losing team).  He went 8-8 in 1983 and suffered what ended up being a career ending injury to his shoulder.  He only made one appearance at the ichi-gun level in 1984 (going only a third of an inning and giving four runs on a walk, a hit batsman and two hits including a home run) and spent the rest of his career with the ni-gun team.  He briefly converted to being an infielder before retiring after the 1988 season.

*The Pacific League did a split season playoff format between 1973 and 1982 with the first half winner playing the second half winner in a best of 5 playoff series.  If the same team won both halves, there would be no playoff - which is what happened in 1976 and 1978 when Hankyu did it.

For some reason, Kudoh does not have a lot of baseball cards.  He appeared in the Takara Fighters sets between 1981 and 1984 (along with the 1984 Takara Kids set) and he had three cards in the 1983 Calbee set.  To my knowledge, that's all the cards that were released of him during his career.  He only has one BBM cards that I know of - a "Legend Of Champion" subset card from the 2003 BBM Fighters set.  He has not appeared in any of the annual "Historic Collection" sets and since the Fighters have never had an OB team set other than the one that celebrated their 10th Anniversary of their move to Hokkaido, there's never been an OB team set for him to appear in.

Here's the BBM card (the only one of the cards mentioned above that I have):

2003 BBM Fighters #111

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