Saturday, January 24, 2015

2015 Hall Of Fame Class - Atsuya Furuta

The 2015 Hall Of Fame class was announced yesterday and only one player was elected from the Players Division - Atsuya Furuta.  In past years, I've done a post for the Hall Of Fame inductees showing two or three cards for each player but since there's only one this year and since he's probably my favorite player that I've never devoted a full post to, I thought I'd go all out for Furuta.  (When I first started collecting Japanese cards, there were three guys that I seemed to find in every set - Koji Akiyama, Kazuhiro Kiyohara and Furuta.  I ended up becoming a fan of all three of them.  I've previously done posts for Akiyama and Kiyohara but never Furuta).

A Noburo Aota Fan's Notes had a very good write up of Furuta's career, so I'll just stick to the high points:  he was drafted by the Swallows in the second round of the fall 1989 draft out of the industrial leagues and stepped into the starting catching role in his rookie year of 1990.  He remained with the Swallows for the next 18 years.

1991 BBM #195

1995 BBM #169

1997 BBM #562 (Nickname subset)

2000 BBM Diamond Heroes #GB2 (Golden Battery insert)

2001 Upper Deck #78

2003 Calbee #012

2007 BBM 1st Version #306
Sadly I have been unable to figure out what nickname his 1997 card is celebrating.

He was named manager of the Swallows prior to the 2006 season, becoming the first player-manager in NPB since Katsuya Nomura (Furuta's manager from 1990-98) in 1977.  He managed the team for two years, retiring as a player mid-way through the 2007 season to concentrate on managing.  (BBM issued two cards of him in both the 2006 and 2007 1st Version sets - one as a player and one as a manager).

2006 BBM 1st Version #325

In his second season, he lead the Central League in batting, becoming (I believe) only the second catcher to ever win a batting crown in Japan (after Nomura in 1965.  Shinnosuke Abe was the thrid in 2012).

1992 BBM #15
He finished his career with 2097 hits, good enough for inclusion in the Meikyukai.  He got hit number 2000 on April 24, 2005 at Botchan Stadium in Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku.

2005 BBM 2nd Version #825

2005 Calbee #C-8
Furuta played in five Nippon Series with the Swallows - 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2001, winning championships each time except the first.  He was the MVP of the Series twice - in 1997 and 2001.

1997 BBM Nippon Series #S58

2001 BBM Nippon Series #S14
Winning two MVPs seemed to be a theme with him.  He won two Central League MVP Awards (1993 & 1997) and two All Star Game MVPs (1991 Game One when he threw out three base runners and 1992 Game 2 when he hit for the cycle).  He ended up making 16 All Star teams (1990-2005 & 2007) in all.

2000 BBM All Stars #A71
He was elected to the Central League Best 9 team nine times (1991 - 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999 - 2001, 2004) and was a 10 time winner of the Golden Glove award (1990 - 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999 - 2001, 2004).  He also won a Shoriki Award in 1997 (back when they still awarded it to players).

1998 BBM #526

2002 BBM 2nd Version #GG2

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