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.

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