Monday, February 22, 2021

Ryota Igarashi

I have been putting off getting started on the posts for players who retired at the end of last season for a while now.  Part of that was because last season ended up finishing late but I think it's mostly that I've been waiting for my package from Ryan that contains all my 2020 BBM team sets (among MANY other things) to show up.  Ryan shipped the package at the beginning of December but between COVID and the sabotaging of the post office done by the last administration, it still hasn't made its way here yet.  But Opening Day is only a little more than a month away so I figured I should go ahead and get started doing retirement posts for the players that I do have 2020 cards for.  First up is Ryota Igarshi.

Igarashi was the second round pick of the Yakult Swallows in the 1997 draft out of Keiai Gakuen High School and made his debut with the ichi-gun team in 1999.  He worked in middle relief for a couple years before taking over as the Swallows closer when Shingo Takatsu headed for the US for the 2004 season.  A thigh injury in 2005 caused him to lost the closer role to Hirotoshi Ishii (who in turn lost it in 2006 when Takatsu returned).  He injured his elbow in 2006 and ended up having Tommy John surgery which cost him his entire 2007 season.  He returned in 2008 and had two solid seasons in middle relief before leaving NPB as an international free agent and signing a two year contract with the New York Mets.

He ultimately spent three years in MLB - two injury plagued years with the Mets (2010-11) and then a 2012 season that he started in spring training with the Pirates, got traded to the Blue Jays and then got released and picked up by the Yankees.  He returned to Japan and signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks for the 2013 season.

He spent six seasons with the Hawks working out of the bullpen. He was the team's closer for part of the 2013 season but worked in middle relief the rest of the time.  The Hawks released him after the 2018 season and he rejoined the Swallows.  He spent most of the 2020 season on the Swallows' farm team, only getting into one game at the ichi-gun level (and that was his retirement game).  His one appearance in 2020 allowed him to become the sixthfifth pitcher in NPB history to appear in four different decades after Choji Murata (60's-90's), Kimiyasu Kudoh (80's-10's), Masahiro Yamamoto (80's-10's), and Masao Kida (80's-10's) and Kyoji Fujikawa (90's-20's).  UPDATE - my mistake - Fujikawa didn't made his NPB debut until 2000.

Igarashi made the All Star team six times (2000, 2002-05, 2014).  He lead the Central League in saves with 37 in 2004 and the Pacific League in holds with 44 in 2014.  He played in four Nippon Series - 1 with the Swallows (2001) and three with the Hawks (2014-15 & 2017).  His team won all four Series.  

His rookie card is #289 in the 1998 BBM set although his first Calbee card was not until 2000 (#184).  He had a card in at least one of BBM's flagship sets from 1998 to the 2020 with the exception of the three years he played in MLB.  Here's a bunch of his cards:

1998 BBM #289

1999 Future Bee Swallows #017

2001 BBM Nippon Series #S10

2003 BBM All Stars #A17

2005 Calbee #T-19

2009 BBM 2nd Version #710

2013 BBM The Trade Stories #82

2014 Hawks Players Card

2019 BBM Fusion #GR15

2020 Calbee #143


Ryan H said...

The USPS has been a failing institution for quite some time. I don't believe the previous presidential administration is the blame for your recent mail being late.

NPB Card Guy said...