Friday, October 28, 2016

Sayanora Home Runs In The Nippon Series

As you probably have already heard, Game Five of this year's Nippon Series ended yesterday on a walk off grand slam by Haruki Nishikawa of the Fighters.  Nishikawa's blast was the second walk off grand slam in Nippon Series history and the second walk off Nippon Series home run in franchise history.

The first walk off grand slam in a Nippon Series was hit by Toru Sugiura of the Swallows against the Lions in Game One of the 1992 Series.  Sugiura was pinch hitting in the bottom of the twelfth inning.  Here's video of the entire inning - Sugiura's at bat starts around the 11 minute mark:

The first sayanora home run in a Series game in Fighters franshise history was hit by Koichi Iwashita of the then-Toei Flyers in Game Five of the 1962 Series off of future Hall Of Famer Masaaki Koyama of the Hanshin Tigers.  Iwashita's home run was a two run homer that was hit in the eleventh inning.  I found this video on YouTube that appears to be a biography of Hall Of Fame manager Shigeru Mizuhara who managed the 1962 Flyers.  Kinoshita's home run is around the nine minute mark:

There are a lot of baseball cards available for Sugiura.  He had a 22 year career with Yakult that ended in 1993 so he appears on a number of Calbee and Takara issues as well as the first three years of BBM's sets.  He has not appeared in many of BBM's OB sets however - I think he's only shown up in four of them (2002 All Time Heroes, 2009 Back To The 80's, 2009 Yakult 40th Anniversary and 2013 Greatest Games - 10-16-1985).  His 1992 BBM Nippon Series set card shows his bat flip after hitting the grand slam:

1992 BBM Nippon Series #S43
On the other hand there are very few cards of Iwashita available.  He was a rookie in 1962 and played until 1971 which means most of his career was in the post-menko, pre-Calbee dead zone of Japanese baseball cards between 1965 and 1972.  He has at least one menko card that I'm aware of (1964 Marusan JCM 11) and he also appears in the 1967 Kabaya-Leaf set.  He has no modern cards that I know of - I suspect that's partly because there's never been an OB team set for the Fighters that covers the time period before 2004.  Here's his Kabaya-Leaf card:

1967 Kabaya-Leaf #406
Don't read too much into Nishikawa's blast as a predictor for the outcome of the Series - Iwashita's Flyer's won the 1962 Series but Sugiura's Swallows lost the 1992 Series.

UPDATE - forgot I wanted to credit Deanna and tensaibaka of NPB Reddit with the information on Sugiura and Iwashita and my friend Hiro for sharing the video of Sugiura on his Facebook page.

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