Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hiroyuki Nakajima Of The Oakland Athletics

Former Saitama Seibu Lions shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima signed a two year contract with the Oakland Athletics a couple of weeks back.  Nakajima was drafted by the Lions out of high school in the fall of 2000.  With Kazuo Matsui ensconced at shortstop for Seibu at the time, Nakajima didn't get a whole lot of playing time with the ichi-gun squad.  After 2003, however, Matsui departed for the Mets, creating an opportunity for Nakajima to show the Lions what he could do.  He hit .287 with 27 home runs and 90 RBIs and helped the Lions win their first Nippon Series since 1992 (12 years might not seem like a long time, but the Lions had won 8 Nippon Series in the 12 years from 1980 to 1992 so there was a noticeable drop off in the frequency of championships).  He would never hit that many home runs again in a season, but he's been one of the top shortstops in NPB since 2004.

His BBM rookie card is #426 from the 2001 set.  His only other card from 2001 is from a company called Broccoli who put out several sets for the Lions from 1999-2001, mostly I think to capitalize on the popularity of Daisuke Matsuzaka.  For the next two years, the only card of him that exists is from the 2003 BBM Seibu Lions team set.  Starting in 2004, however, he became a regular in each of the BBM 1st and 2nd Version sets.   2004 was also the first year he appeared in a Calbee set.

Nakajima has appeared in two Nippon Series with the Lions - 2004 and 2008 - and therefore appears in the corresponding BBM Nippon Series sets.  He won a "Outstanding Player" award in the 2008 Series so he has two cards in that set.  He has made the All Star team eight of the nine years he's been a regular, missing only in 2005, so he appears in the corresponding BBM All Star sets.  He played for the Japanese National Team in both the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 World Baseball Classic so he has a card in the 2008 BBM Team Japan set as well as a couple cards in the various WBC sets from Topps.

As always, this is not a comprehensive list, just some of the highlights.  Check SportsCardForum's Inverntory Manager for a much more complete list.

Here's some example cards:

2001 BBM #426

2004 BBM Pacific League Playoffs #P25

2005 Calbee #001

2006 BBM 1st Version #88

2007 BBM All Stars #A22

2008 BBM Nippon Series #S60 (Outstanding Player Award)

2009 Topps Chrome WBC Inserts #W62

2010 BBM 1st Version Cross Stream #CS138

2011 BBM Lions Classic #16

2012 BBM 1st Version Best 9 subset #363

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