Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hirokazu Ibata

Another in the long parade of players who retired at the end of the 2015 season was Giants infielder Hirokazu Ibata.  Ibata was drafted by the Dragons in the fifth round of the 1997 NPB draft (Kenshin Kawakami was their first round pick that year) out of Asia University.  He got into a handful of games with the ichi-gun team in 1998 but it wasn't until 2000 that he was with the top team to stay.  He was the starting shortstop for the Dragons through most of the 00's.  The Dragons released him at the end of the 2013 season and he joined the Giants.

He made the All Star team eight times (2001-02, 2005, 2007-11), was named to five Best 9 teams (2002, 2004-07) and won seven Golden Gloves (2004-09, 2012).  He played on five Nippon Series with the Dragons (2004, 2006-07, 2010-11), winning it all in 2007.  He played for Team Japan at least three times - the 2002 Baseball World Cup, the 2003 Asia Games and the 2013 World Baseball Classic - he made the 2013 WBC Best 9.

He retired to take a coaching position with the Giants under their new manager Yoshinobu Takahashi.  He will be the new infield/base coach for the ichi-gun squad.

2011 BBM Tohto 80th Memorial #52

2001 BBM #294

2002 BBM Japan National Team #31

2003 Calbee #018

2006 BBM Dragons 70th Anniversary #92

2006 BBM 1st Version "Best 9" insert #BN16

2006 BBM 1st Version "Golden Glove" insert #GG15

2008 Calbee #107

2010 BBM 1st Version #056

2011 BBM All Stars #A57

2011 BBM Nippon Series #S45

2013 Calbee #007

2014 Front Runner Giants Stars & Legends #10

2015 BBM Giants #G43
Ibata's rookie card was #389 in the 1998 set.  I don't have it but he appears in the 2015 BBM 25th Anniversary set so the rookie card is featured on the back of his card:

2015 BBM 25th Anniversary #097 (Back)

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