Friday, October 17, 2008

Koji Akiyama

To the surprise of no one, the Hawks announced a couple of weeks ago that Koji Akiyama would be succeeding Sadaharu Oh as manager. I thought a little retrospective would be in order, especially since Akiyama was one of my favorite players.

He signed with the Lions in 1981 after not being drafted (although like Takuro Ishii, he appears in the 2007 BBM Draft Story set). He briefly played for them in 1981, then was farmed out for two years - 1982 in Japan and 1983 playing for San Jose in the California League. (San Jose was a coop and/or independent team for much of the 1980's and had a working agreement with Seibu.) He joined the Lions to stay in 1984 and hit over 40 home runs a season from 1985-87. Here's his 1984 Mizuno Menko card:

1989 Calbee #101:

He left the Lions for the Hawks as a free agent following the 1993 season. Curiously, he appears to have left his power in Saitama. He hit 328 home runs for the Lions from 1984-1993. He would hit only 109 in Fukuoka from 1994-2002. Here's his 1994 BBM card (#463):

1995 BBM #589:

He got his 2000th hit on August 18, 2000, commemorated here with a Memorial Records subset card from the 2001 BBM set (#524):

He retired at the end of the 2002 season. His 2003 BBM 1st Version 2002 Retirement Player subset card (#416) shows him being tossed in the air by his former team rather than his current team. I think Kazuhiro Kiyohara got similar treatment this season.

Akiyama played in 10 Nippon Series, 8 with the Lions and two for the Hawks. He is the only player to win Nippon Series MVP's with two different teams - 1991 with the Lions and 1999 with the Hawks. Here's his 1999 BBM Nippon Series MVP card (#S64):

Akiyama was known for occasionally doing back flips when he hit a game winning home run. BBM has immortalized this twice that I know of. This is his 1991 BBM Nippon Series MVP card (#S58):

This is his card from the 2008 BBM Lions 30th Anniversary set (#27):

I think that this last card shows the back flip he did during Game 8 of the 1986 Series against the Carp. I found this YouTube video of this home run and flip:

I found a couple other YouTube videos of interest. Both are from the 1999 Nippon Series. The first (which I couldn't embed) is of a home run he hit of Shigeki Noguchi in Game 1. The other is of a great catch he made during Game 3:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great catch in that last video!

Decent-sized shoes to fill down there in Fukuoka, but can't get much worse than this season.

Excellent post!