Monday, January 15, 2018

2018 Hall Of Fame Class

The 2018 Hall Of Fame inductees were announced today.  The inductees from the Players Division ballot were Hideki Matsui and Tomoaki Kanemoto.  Both players were inducted in their first year of eligibility.  Matsui is only the third member of the Hall Of Fame to have played in MLB (after Hideo Nomo and Kazuhiro Sasaki) and at 43 years and 7 months is the youngest Hall Of Famer ever elected.  Tatsunori Hara as the sole selection of the Expert Division - he had just missed being elected in 2015, his final year on the Players Division ballot.  The Special Division election selected long time high school and university manager Masao Taki.

The Hall Of Fame's English language press release is here (in pdf form).

Here are cards for Hara, Kanemoto and Matsui - I'm not aware of any cards for Taki.

Tatsunori Hara

1981 Yamakatsu Young Giants

1993 Kanebo #017

2010 BBM 20th Anniversary #224

 Tomoaki Kanemoto

1994 BBM #363

2003 Calbee #106

2012 BBM Tigers #T058 (Foil Parallel)

 Hideki Matsui

1994 Takara Giants #55

1999 Calbee #266 (Gold Signature Parallel)

2002 BBM Central League Champion Giants #YG38

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Card Of The Week January 14

I was surprised to discover last spring when I was researching NPB players who had been loaned to the San Francisco Giants organization back in the 1960's and early 1970's that Makoto Matsubara (who had played with San Francisco's Arizona Instructional League in 1969) had spent the last season of his career as a Yomiuri Giant.  Matsubara had spent 19 seasons playing for the Whales and hit 330 home runs and accumulated over 2000 hits (making him a meikyukai member),  He was traded to the Giants in early 1981 for Masaaki Koga.

I was further surprised to discover that I had a couple cards of Matsubara with the Giants from the 1981 Calbee set.  From looking at his stats that year I saw that he had only played in 36 games and hit .233 with only one home run.  I figured that he hadn't played well enough that season to have earned a spot on the Giants' Nippon Series roster that season which was a shame since the Whales never made the Series while he was with them.  I was incorrect however - he made the roster and made two pinch hitting appearances in the Series.  In fact his first pinch hitting appearance resulted in a game tying home run in the top of the ninth of Game One, making him the fifth player to ever homer in their first Nippon Series at bat and the first to do it as a pinch hitter.  (The Fighters ultimately won the game in the bottom of the ninth.)  His other pinch hitting appearance was a strikeout to end Game Three - so his only at bats in the Series were in the only two games that the Giants lost en route to winning the Series 4 games to 2.  He retired after the Series, a champion for the first time.

One of the 1981 Calbee cards I have of him (#412) shows him rounding third after hitting the home run in the Nippon Series.  As an added bonus, the third base coach congratulating him is Hall Of Famer Shigeru Makino who there are very few cards of.

Seung-Yeop Lee

One last retirement post (for now)...

Long time Samsung Lion (and one time Chiba Lotte Marine, Yomiuri Giant and Orix Buffalo) Seung-Yeop Lee retired at the end of last season.  I did a post for Lee when he hit his 600th home run in September of 2016 so I won't repeat his biography here.  Check out Dan Skrezyna's Korean Cardboard blog for a list of Lee's cards (and a really cool team giveaway set featuring Lee's top five home runs ever).

Here's another assortment of Lee's cards:

1999 Teleca "World Sports Card Show" promo

2004 BBM 2nd Version "Opening Game" insert #OB4

2005 BBM All Stars #A29

2006 Upper Deck Ovation Nation #ON-SL

2007 BBM Home Run Chronicle #45

2008 BBM 1st Version #023

2009 BBM Nippon Series #S20

2010 BBM Giants #G126

2011 BBM Legend Of Bs #12

2014 Superstar Baseball Season Two #SBC02-004

2015 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC1501-112-N

2016 Forever Ace #PA03-SA002

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Yasuyuki Kataoka

Yasuyuki Kataoka of the Giants announced his retirement back at the beginning of October.  Kataoka was the youngest of three brothers to play for the Utsunomiya Gakuen High School baseball team. After graduating he spent three years playing for Tokyo Gas in the corporate leagues - one of his older brothers (Shogo) was playing for JR East in the corporate leagues as well.  After four seasons with Tokyo Gas Kataoka was drafted in the third round of the 2004 draft by the Seibu Lions. 

By the middle of the 2005 season Kataoka had become the Lions starting second baseman, a position he would hold for the next six seasons.  He lead the Pacific League in stolen bases from 2007 to 2010 and in hits in 2008.  He was named to the Best 9 team in 2008 and was elected to the All Star team in 2008 and 2010.  Injuries started taking their toll in 2011 - he missed time due to leg and shoulder injuries as well as a concussion - and he lost time in 2012 and 2013 as well due to wrist and knee injuries.

He left the Lions as a free agent after 2013 and signed with Yomiuri.  He was the Giants' regular second baseman in 2014 and 2015 and played in over 100 games both seasons for the first time since 2010 but he didn't hit particularly well and he lost his starting job to Luis Cruz in 2016.  Various injuries again cost him playing time the last two seasons and he spent all of 2017 with the farm team.

He played in one Nippon Series with the Lions in 2008 and played for Team Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

His first BBM cards were #2 from the 2005 Rookie Edition set (which I don't have) and #41 from the 2005 1st Version set.  His first Calbee card was #019 in the 2006 set.  He's also appeared in various sets from Konami, Bandai, Front Runner and Epoch.

2005 BBM 1st Version #41

2008 BBM Nippon Series #S20

2009 BBM 1st Version #443

2009 Konami WBC Heroes #W09R103

2010 BBM All Stars #A52

2011 BBM Lions Classic #36

2012 Calbee #159

2014 BBM Classic #040

2015 Front Runner Giants Game Used Bat Edition #11

2017 BBM Giants #G44

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Tomoya Yagi

Tomoya Yagi had a really good rookie year.  Yagi was drafted by the Fighters in the "preferred entry frame" (which I still don't quite understand) of the 2005 draft out of Soka University.  He went 12-8 with a 2.48 ERA his rookie season in 2006 and also made the All Star team.  He also threw a no-hitter in his fourth start ever (well, it was a no-hitter than went 12 innings and he only pitched the first 10 - Hisashi Takeda and Michael Nakamura pitched the other two).  And his team won the Nippon Series that year.  And he was named Rookie Of The Year.  All in all it was a great season for him.

Unfortunately this was the highlight of his career.  A shoulder injury limited his playing time over the next two seasons although he rebounded with a 9-3, 2.88 ERA season in 2009.  He again missed a lot of time over the next two seasons but came back somewhat in 2012 with a 6-3, 3.38 ERA record.  That was the end of his time with the Fighters though - he was dealt to the Orix Buffaloes in early 2013 as part of the Yoshio Itoi deal.

Orix pretty much buried him on the farm team - he only got into six games with the ichi-gun team in 2013 and 2014 and he didn't perform particularly well.  The Buffaloes released him after 2014 and he was picked up by the Dragons after he attended the 12-team tryout.  He got into 14 ichi-gun games in 2015, the most he had appeared in since 2009, and went 4-6 with an ERA of 3.92.  He was banished back to the farm team for the last two seasons, however, only getting into four games with the top team (one in 2016 and three in 2017).  He was released at the end of the season and announced his retirement in November.  I think he will become a scout for the Dragons but I'm not sure.

He pitched in two Nippon Series - 2006 and 2009 - and won a game in each of them.  2006 was the only season he was named to the All Star team.

Yagi's first BBM cards are #35 in the 2006 Rookie Edition set and #172 in the 2006 1st Version set.  Most of his cards were BBM cards but he had a couple Calbee cards in 2006 and 2007 as well as some cards in various Konami, Bandai and Front Runner issues.  (As always I'm using's list to supplement what I own.)

2006 BBM Rookie Edition #35

2006 BBM 1st Version #172

2006 BBM All Stars #A22

2007 BBM 1st Version #479

2007 BBM 1st Version #447

2009 BBM Nippon Series #S38

2012 BBM 2nd Version #410

2014 Front Runner Buffaloes Rookies & Young Stars #15

2017 BBM Dragons #D28

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Takehiro Donoue

Giants outfielder Takahiro Donoue retired back in October after the team told him he wasn't in their plans for 2018.  Donoue was originally the property of the Chunichi Dragons - he was their sixth round pick out of high school in the 2003 draft.  He made his ichi-gun debut in 2005.  He appears to have mostly had a pinch hitter/fourth outfielder role with the team.  His best season was probably 2012 when he got into 85 games and hit .282.  He played in three Nippon Series with the Dragons - 2007, 2010 & 2011 - I think all his appearances in the Series were as a pinch hitter.

He spent the 2006 offseason playing for the North Shore Honu of the Hawaiian Winter League along side future MLB players like Lorenzo Cain and Kenley Jansen.

The Dragons released him following the 2014 season and he attended the 12-team tryout that fall.  The Giants signed him to an ikusei contract but he was registered to the 70-man roster during spring camp in 2015.  He got into 102 games with the ichi-gun Giants in 2015 and 2016 but spent all of 2017 with the farm team.

Donoue comes from a baseball playing family.  His father Terashi pitched for the Dragons from 1971 to 1986 and his younger brother Naomichi was his teammate with Chunichi after 2007 (and is still playing in Nagoya).

Donoue's first BBM cards are #49 from the 2004 Rookie Edition set (which I don't have) and #246 from the 2004 1st Version set.  He only had four "flagship" cards ever - in the 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2012 1st Version sets.  He never had a Calbee card but he did have a couple cards in some of the Bandai and Konami collectible card game sets.  (H/T

2004 BBM 1st Version #246

2007 BBM The Climax - Dragons #D27

2011 BBM Dragons 75th Anniversary #99

2011 BBM Nippon Series #S57

2014 BBM Dragons #D68

2015 BBM Giants #G70

2017 BBM Giants #G66

Monday, January 8, 2018

Yuji Iiyama

Back to the retirements after almost a month and a half...

Longtime Fighters backup infielder and farm hand Yuji Iiyama announced his retirement back in September.  Iiyama was drafted out of his high school by the Fighters in the fourth round of the 1997 draft.  He spent his most of his first seven seasons with the farm team - only making it into 11 ichi-gun games between 1998 and 2004 (and all of those were in 2001 and 2003).  He was pretty much a late inning defensive replacement most of his career - he only appeared in more than 100 games once in his career (2007) and he only had 55 plate appearances that year.  The most plate appearances he ever had in a single season was 194 in 2011.  He did get to appear in four Nippon Series (2006,2007, 2009 and 2012) though.  He will be remaining in the Fighters organization as a ni-gun infield and base coach.

His BBM rookie card was #470 in the 1998 set.  He never had a Calbee card and until I looked at's listing for him I wasn't aware that he'd ANY non-BBM cards - he had a couple Bandai and Konami cards.  He only appeared in four BBM flagship sets (1998, 2007 1st Version, 2008 1st Version and 2011 2nd Version) over the course of his career - the same number of Nippon Series sets he appeared in.

1998 BBM #470

2003 BBM Fighters #051

2006 BBM Nippon Series #S22

2007 BBM 1st Version #24

2011 BBM 2nd Version #430


2017 BBM Fighters #F45