Saturday, March 30, 2019

RIP Akihito Kondoh

Akihito Kondoh, who manned second base for the Taiyo Whales in the 1960's, passed away this past week at age 80.  Kondoh signed with the Whales after graduating from Waseda University and made his debut with them in 1960.  Taiyo won their first Central League pennant that season and defeated the Daimai Orions in the Nippon Series in the first ever four game Series sweep.  Kondoh's solo home run in the ninth inning of Game Three broke a 5-5 tie and proved to be the game winner.  He followed that the next day with an RBI single in the fifth inning of Game Four that plated the only run of the game.  He was named the MVP of the Series. 

The rest of Kondoh's career was relatively unspectacular.  He was the Whales regular second baseman through the 1971 season and spent two seasons as a bench player before retiring following the 1973 season.  He made the Central League All Star team twice - 1962 and 1965.  He became a coach after his playing days were over, coaching for Taiyo from 1974 to 1978, the Swallows from 1979 to 1981, the Lions from 1982 to 1986 and the Giants from 1989 to 1991.  He returned to his old team as manager in 1993 (becoming the first manager of the newly renamed Yokohama Baystars) and ran the team for three seasons.  He managed the Chiba Lotte Marines from 1997-98 and returned to the Giants to coach again in 2006.

I was surprised when I went to pull cards for this post to discover that I didn't have any cards from him that came out when he was playing.  After doing a little research I discovered there's a reason for that - he only had five cards that appear in Engel's latest guide and a couple of those are somewhat obscure - 1960 Marusho Flag Back menko (JCM 13a), 1960 Sakai Gum (JF 49), 1961 Union Oil Taiyo Whales (JA 1), 1962 Shonen Club Flag Back Playing Cards (JGA 180) and the 1979 TCMA set (when he was a coach for the Swallows).  He also doesn't show up in BBM or Epoch's OB sets very often - there's only about five of him as a player since 1998 with another two commemorating his managerial career.

2016 BBM The Ballpark Stories #038

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #045

2010 Epoch All Japan Baseball Foundation #107

2015 BBM Whales Achievement #16

1979 TCMA #23

1993 BBM #398

1997 BBM #517
If it's not obvious the card from the 2016 BBM The Ballpark Stories celebrates him winning the 1960 Nippon Series MVP award.  His name is misspelled on the TCMA card.


kirk said...

those 2006 bbm. nostalgic cards are excellent. do they sell them as a separate set.

NPB Card Guy said...

That's one of my favorite sets. It's an 108 card set that came out in the summer of 2006. I wrote one of my earliest posts about it a long time ago.

kirk said...

thanks for the info.i enjoy the cards and learning about japanese baseball history.