Friday, November 2, 2012

Makoto Imaoka

Another player who announced his retirement at the end of the season was Makoto Imaoka of the Chiba Lotte Marines.  Imaoka had been drafted by the Tigers out of Toyo University in the first round of the 1997 draft.  His BBM rookie card is #510 in the 1997 set.  His first Calbee card is #037 in the 1999 set.

2011 Tohto 80th Memorial #62

1997 BBM #510
Imaoka had a number of big years with the Tigers in the early to mid '00, peaking with a 29 homer, 147 RBI season in 2005, leading the Tigers to the Central League pennant.  Injuries began to take their toll after that and after several years of declining production, the Tigers released him following the 2009 season.

2001 Upper Deck #94

2002 Calbee Sayanora Home Run #SH-1
The Marines picked him up in time for the 2010 season.  He appeared in less than 40 games at the ichi-gun level for the 2010 and 2011 seasons (although he did appear in the 2010 Nippon Series) and returned in 2012 as a player-coach.  Not only did he not appear in any games with the top team this past season, but he didn't have any cards in the main BBM and Calbee sets, only the BBM Marines set.

2011 BBM Marines 20th Anniversary #25
Imaoka made five All Star teams during his time with the Tigers - 1998 and 2002-05.  He received the most votes in the 2003 fan balloting.

2003 BBM All Stars #A64

2005 BBM All Stars #A41
He appeared in three Nippon Series - 2003 and 2005 in losing efforts with the Tigers and on the winning side in 2010 with the Marines.

2005 BBM Nippon Series #44

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