Sunday, April 16, 2017

Akinori Iwamura

Akinori Iwamura announced his retirement from baseball last week.  He's spent the last two seasons as player/manager of the Fukushima Hopes of the independent Baseball Challenge (BC) League.  Iwamura was a second round pick of the Yakult Swallows in the fall 1996 draft out of high school.  He debuted with the Swallows in 1998 and became the regular third baseman in 2000.  His best seasons were 2002 when he hit .320 and 2004 when he had 44 home runs with 103 RBIs.  He left the Swallows for MLB following the 2006 season and spent four years in the US - three years with the Tampa Bay Rays from 2007-09 and then he split the 2010 season with the Pirates and A's.  He returned to NPB in 2011 and joined the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.  After two seasons in Sendai he returned to Yakult for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.  He was only a shadow of his former self upon his return to Japan and the Swallows released him at the end of the 2014 season.

He never lead the league in any positive offensive category but he did set a record for most strikeouts in a season in 2004 with 173.  He won Best 9 awards in 2002 and 2006 and Golden Glove Awards in 2000-02 and 2004-06.  He made the All Star team four times - 2001, 2004-06 - and played in the Nippon Series once in 2001 (and won an "Outstanding Player" award).  He played for the Japan National Team in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics.

His BBM rookie card was #502 in the 1997 set and his first Calbee card was #131 from the 2000 set.

1997 BBM #502

2000 Konami Field Of Nine #FON00T-075

2001 BBM Nippon Series #S15

2003 BBM 1st Version #BN5

2005 BBM 1st Version #GG14

2006 BBM All Stars #A57

2009 Topps WBC #42

2011 BBM 1st Version #149

2013 Topps Tribute WBC #TTWH-AI

2014 BBM 1st Version #315

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