Thursday, April 15, 2021

Toru Hosokawa

Longtime NPB catcher Toru Hosokawa retired at the end of the 2020 season.  Hosokawa was the top pick of the Lions in the 2001 NPB draft although he actually joined the team as their "free acquisition pick" rather than a traditional draft pick.  He spent most of his first season on the farm and split the ichi-gun catching duties with Tsutomu Itoh in 2003.  He became the starting catcher after Itoh retired (despite his somewhat abysmal hitting) and grew into the job over the next few years.  His offense peaked in 2008, hitting .238 with 16 home runs (and 129 strikeouts).  He made the All Star team for the only time that season and also won both the Best 9 and Golden Glove awards.  An elbow injury cost him much of the 2009 season and he lost his starting role to Ginjiro Sumitani but regained it the following season when Sumitani broke his knee in March.  He only hit .191 though and filed for free agency at the end of the season.

He signed on with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and was the Hawks Opening Day catcher for the next few years despite missing some time with injuries and continuing to hit poorly.  He won the 2011 Best 9 and Golden Glove awards despite a batting average of .201 - this was actually his highest average with Softbank until 2016.  A thumb injury cut into his playing time in 2015 and he split 2016 between the top and farm teams.  The Hawks released him at the end of the year and he signed on with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

He spent two seasons with the Eagles although much of it was on the farm team.  The Eagles released him after the 2018 season and asked him to coach for them but he decided he wanted to continue to play.  The Marines picked him up and he spent two more seasons with them, again mostly on the ni-gun team.  Lotte released him in early November and he announced his retirement a few days later.  He's now managing the Fire Country Salamanders of the independent Kyushu Asian League.

Hosokawa's first BBM cards are from the 2002 Preview (#P90), 1st Version (#267) and 2nd Version (#696) sets.  His first Calbee card was #168 from the 2004 Series Three set.  Here are some of his cards:

2002 BBM Preview #P90

2002 BBM 1st Version #267

2004 BBM Nippon Series #16

2007 Lions Original Player Card #27

2008 BBM 1st Version #375

2008 BBM All Stars #A46

2011 BBM 1st Version #378

2013 BBM Hawks 75th Anniversary #82

2014 Hawks Players Card

2017 BBM Eagles #E42

2020 BBM Marines #M42

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