Monday, February 4, 2019

Card Of The Week February 3

The Heisei Period will be drawing to a close in a few months and I got curious about something.  One of the original prerequisites for a player joining the Meikyukai (or "Golden Players Club") is that the player was born during the Showa Period which ended in 1988 (although I think the Japanese wikipedia page for the club says that players born in the Heisei Period will now be eligible).  No one born in the Heisei Period had reached the milestones necessary for Meikyukai membership (2000 hits, 200 win or 250 saves) yet but I got curious about who was the closest.  I just looked at hitters and I did it very unscientifically - I basically guessed at who might be the right age and have the most hits.  The first batch of players I thought of (Yuki Yanagita, Shogo Akiyama, Hayato Sakamoto) all turned out to have been born during the Showa Period (Sakamoto was born about three weeks from the end of the Period).  I'm not positive but I think the right answer is Ryosuke Kikuchi of the Carp who has 974 hits.  Here's a card of Kikuchi from the 2012 Front Runner Carp Starting Lineup set (#16):

I don't know remember where I read this but I'm pretty sure the Showa Period birthday requirement was specifically instituted to exclude Tetshuharu Kawakami from being able to join.  Apparently club founder Masaichi Kaneda (the 400 game winner for the Swallows and Giants) didn't like Kawakami much and wanted to keep him out.


Sean said...

That is interesting, I didn't know about that Showa era requirement (the Wikipedia page says "born in the Showa period or after", so Kawakami would still be out but everyone born in the Heisei period I guess is eligible)!

I'm guessing the number of Heisei era players eligible might be significantly lower than their Showa counterparts simply owing to the effect of so many top players going to MLB for a few seasons in the prime of their career, leaving them with very truncated NPB career stats (though a lot of guys have been joining the 2000 hit club recently so maybe the fact that top pitchers are also leaving is helping lower level hitters reach the milestone....though of course top pitchers reaching 200 wins are becoming rarer I think).

NPB Card Guy said...

Actually the MLB stats count as long as the player starts his career in NPB. Technically Alfonso Soriano is a member as he got his first two hits with the Carp before going to MLB.