Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Yoshinobu Takahashi

Giants outfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi retired at the end of the 2015 season after being offered the team managerial position following Tatsunori Hara's resignation.  Takahashi was the number one pick of the Giants in the fall 1997 draft out of Keio University of the Tokyo Big Six league.

2011 BBM Legend Of Tokyo Big Six #091

1999 BBM Mr. Giants #G94

He had a strong rookie season in 1998, hitting .300 with 19 home runs.  I think he finished second in the Rookie Of The Year vote to Kenshin Kawakami of the Dragons.  He followed that up in 1999 with what probably ended up being the best season of his career - hitting .315 with 34 home runs and 98 RBIs.  His 1999 season ended a few weeks early, however, after he broke his collar bone after colliding with the outfield fence in Nagoya Dome.  This would be what they called "foreshadowing" in my high school English classes.

1998 BBM #547

1999 Calbee #268 (Signature Parallel)
Takahashi put up very good numbers for the Giants over the next five seasons, hitting over .300 every year except 2000 and hitting a least 26 home runs each season except 2002.  He started to miss time due to various injuries, however, starting in 2002.  He would play 11 more seasons after 2004 but he would only play in more than 100 game in three of those seasons.

2000 Giants Victory Road #15

2001 Calbee #003

2002 Calbee #103
He missed about a third of both the 2005 and 2006 season due to various injuries and surgeries - shoulder (or elbow) surgery before the 2005 season, ankle surgery before the 2006 season and hurting his side diving for a fly ball during the 2006 season.  He made a complete comeback in 2007 - playing the entire season and hitting .308 with 35 home runs (his career high).  Injuries returned in 2008, however, as he missed about a third of the season again (including the Nippon Series) with back problems.  He missed almost the entire 2009 season with back and hip issues.   He recovered enough to appear in over 100 games for the Giants in 2010 but he broke a rib early in the 2011 season and...well, you get the idea.  He'd get healthy for a while and then he'd get injured again.  Played a full season in 2012, had a strained left calf in 2013, broken finger in 2014, etc.  It was pretty apparent by the end of the 2015 season that his days as a player with the Giants were over and press reports indicated that he was mulling over retirement or attempting to continue his career with another team when the Giants offered him the managerial job.

2009 BBM 1st Version #245

2014 BBM Giants #G106

2015 Calbee #133
Takahashi made the Best 9 team twice in this career (1999, 2007) and won seven Golden Glove awards (1998 - 2003, 2007).  He made the All Star team 9 times (1998 - 2004, 2007, 2012).

2004 BBM 1st Version #GG19

2007 BBM All Stars #A66
He played in four Nippon Series for the Giants - 2000, 2002, 2012 and 2013 - winning in all of them except the last one.  He missed the Series in both 2008 and 2009 due to injuries.

2012 BBM Nippon Series #S29
Takahashi played for the Japan National Team three different times during the prime of his career - for the 2001 Baseball World Cup, the 2003 Asian Games and the 2004 Olympics.

2002 BBM 1st Verison #413
I don't have either his BBM (1998 #345) or Calbee (1998 #084) rookie cards but I have other cards that show both of them:

2010 BBM 20th Anniversary #116 (Back)

2012 Calbee #M-34 (reprint of 1998 Calbee #084)

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