Sunday, December 1, 2019

Toshiaki Imae

Eagles third baseman Toshiaki Imae announced his retirement in late October.  Imae was originally drafted out of high school baseball powerhouse PL Gakuen by the Chiba Lotte Marines in the third round of the 2001 draft.  Imae made his ichi-gun debut in April of 2002 but spent most of his first three seasons with the Marines playing for their farm team in Urawa.  In 2005 though he became the Marines starting third baseman, a role he would not relinquish for another 10 seasons.  He left the Marines as a free agent following the 2015 season and signed with the Eagles.  He missed a lot of time in his first two seasons in Sendai due to injury but he played a full season in 2018.  He suffered an eye injury in training camp in 2019 and only got into 26 games with the ichi-gun team this past season.  He will be a coach for the Eagles starting next season.

Imae was named to the Best 9 team in 2005 and won Golden Glove awards four times (2005-08).  He was selected for the All Star team three times (2006, 2013, 2018).  He played in for Team Japan in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

I've always found it remarkable that the Marines won the Nippon Series twice while Imae was with them (2005 & 2010) and he was voted MVP both times.

His first baseball card was #326 in BBM's 2002 1st Version set.  His first Calbee card was in the "Jump Up To The Star" subset in the 2003 set but his first "regular" Calbee card wasn't until #096 in the 2005 set.  Here's a bunch of his cards:

2002 BBM 1st Version #326

2003 Calbee #J-10

2005 BBM Nippon Series #16

2006 BBM 1st Version #GG5

2006 Upper Deck World Baseball Classic #31

2007 Marines Team Issue

2008 BBM Lotte 40th Anniversary #94

2010 BBM Nippon Series #S66

2011 BBM Marines 20th Anniversary #28

2015 BBM Marines #M46

2016 BBM Classic #035

2019 BBM 1st Version #149

No comments: