Saturday, November 25, 2017

Ryoji Aikawa

Another 2017 retiree is catcher Ryoji Aikawa of the Giants.  Aikawa was originally drafted out of Tokyo Gakakan High School in the fifth round of the fall 1994 draft by the Yokohama Baystars.  He spent the first four and half years of his career with the Baystars farm team as he didn't make his ichi-gun debut until August of 1999.  He was Yokohama's backup catcher for a couple of years before moving into the starting role in 2004.  He remained in that role for them for the next five years until he left the team as a free agent after the 2008 season.  He joined the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and was their starting catcher for them until he got injured in 2012 and lost the starting position to Yuhei Nakamura.  He became a free agent again after the 2014 season and moved a couple miles to the east to the Tokyo Dome and the Yomiuri Giants.  He spent his three seasons with the Giants as backup to Seiji Kobayashi.  He was a five time All Star (2007, 2009-12) and played for the Japan National Team on three occasions - the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 and 2013 World Baseball Classics.

His rookie card was #575 in the 1995 set.  He didn't have another card in a BBM flagship set until 2001.  His first Calbee card was not until 2005 (#153).  Despite playing for Team Japan three times I don't believe there are any cards showing him with the National Team.

I don't have his 1995 rookie card but I have his 2010 BBM 20th Anniversary set card which shows his 1995 card on the back:

2010 BBM 20th Anniversary #159
Here's an assortment of cards from his career:

2001 BBM ##86

2004 BBM Baystars #YB73

2005 BBM Baystars #YB34

2008 Calbee #104

2009 BBM 1st Version #378

2011 BBM All Stars #A54

2014 BBM 2nd Version #651

2015 Calbee #132

2017 Epoch Giants #20

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