Monday, May 31, 2021

NPB Players On The Americas Qualifier Rosters

One of the last two qualifying tournaments for the baseball competition for the delayed but not yet cancelled 2020 Tokyo Olympics started today in Florida.  The Americas Qualifier pits the National squads for Canada, Columbia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela against each other for either a spot in Tokyo (for the tournament winner) or a spot in the final qualifier later this month in Mexico (for the second and third place teams).  Well, the National squads of players who aren't on any MLB team's 40 man rosters right now.

There's a handful of current and former NPB players on the team rosters - I've found 16 players on the Canadian, Cuban, Dominican and American teams.  Actually to be completely honest, I may have found 17 players.  The Cuban roster lists a player named Yadir Drake.  There was a Yadir Drake who played for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in 2016 but I'm not sure they're the same guy.  The Drake who played for the Fighters defected from Cuba in 2011 and spent a couple years in the Dodgers organization.  I was not aware of any defectors being allowed to play for the Cuban National Team but maybe things have changed.  In any event, I don't have any cards of Drake with the Fighters (the only one I'm aware of is a Home Run Sausage card) so I can't show any cards of him here anyway.

UPDATE 6/1/21 - Missed Cuban pitcher Yariel Rodriquez who's a member of the Chunichi Dragons, although I don't have any cards of him either.

It would not surprise me if I missed someone.   Here are the 16 players I found and have cards for:


Andrew Albers - Buffaloes 2018-20

2019 Epoch NPB #114

Chris Leroux - Swallows 2013

2013 Bandai Owners League 04 #055

Scott Mathieson - Giants 2012-19

2015 BBM 2nd Version #484

Dustin Molleken - Fighters 2012-13

2012 BBM Nippon Series #S46


Fredrich Cepeda - Giants 2014-15

2014 BBM Giants #G057

Alfredo Despaigne - Marines 2014-16, Hawks 2017-present

2017 Calbee #084

Raidel Martinez - Dragons 2018-present

2018 BBM Dragons #D32

Livan Moinelo - Hawks 2017-present

2018 Hawks 80th Anniversary Celebration #03

Roel Santos - Marines 2017

2017 BBM Genesis #027

Dominican Republic

Juan Francisco - Giants 2015

2015 BBM Giants #G47

Radhames Liz - Eagles 2016

2016 BBM Eagles #E23

Roman Mendez - Tigers 2017

2017 Epoch Tigers #06 (Variant 1)

Enny Romero - Dragons 2019

2019 BBM Dragons #D31

Raul Valdes - Dragons 2015-17

2017 BBM 1st Version #305

United States

Brandon Dickson - Buffaloes 2013-2020

2013 BBM 1st Version #306

DJ Johnson - 2020 Carp, 2020 Eagles

2020 Epoch Carp Rookies & Stars #12

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Short Term Stops

This is kind of a follow up to the post I did earlier this week about Hall Of Famers on unfamiliar teams.  While I was doing the research on that post, I kept coming across additional, non-Hall Of Fame (or Meikyukai) players who only had a brief tenure with a team.  I decided to do a post on these "short term stints" (to use the term that I think Dime Box Nick coined) although I expanded the definition to include two year stints so that I could include a couple ones that I found interesting.

For the purposes of this post I only considered stints in the "modern" (1991 and later) era, mostly because I was much more likely to have cards showing the player on the team.  I also only considered foreign players who had established themselves with an NPB team at some point either before or after the featured stint.  So I didn't consider someone like Kevin Youkilis, who appeared in 21 games for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2014 but never played for any other NPB teams.  

I had originally intended to break these down by team but that became quite difficult to do without expanding the "short term" to be longer than I wanted.  For example, I always felt that Tomohiro Nioka's stint with the Fighters was "short" but it was actually five years!  So instead I'm doing them in chronological order.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of stints.  But I'm hoping that they're an interesting batch.

1992 BBM #364

Boomer Wells had spent nine seasons with the Hankyu/Orix Braves/BlueWave from 1983 to 1991.  He was the first non-Japanese player to win the Triple Crown in 1984 and had a number of outstanding seasons with Hankyu (and Orix after they bought the Braves in 1988).  But he had a falling out with new Orix manager Shozo Doi in 1991 who dropped him in the batting order (this is the same Shozo Doi who said Ichiro Suzuki would never hit with that batting stance).  Wells took a pay cut to play with the Hawks and hit .271 with 26 home runs and 97 RBIs in 129 games in 1992.  However the Hawks wanted to go with younger players and parted ways with the 38 year old after what ended up being his sunset season.

1995 BBM #439
Hiromichi Ishige had a very productive 14 year career with the Seibu Lions before moving to the Hawks as a free agent before the 1995 season.  He had been the 1981 Pacific League Rookie Of The Year and the 1986 MVP as well as an eight time Best 9 winner and a 14 time All Star.  His two year tenure with the Hawks was not as successful - he hit .200 in 52 games in 1995 and just .130 in 18 games in his sunset season of 1996.  He later managed Orix in 2002 and first part of 2003 and is the founder of Japan's first independent minor league - the Shikoku Island League.

1995 BBM #422
Tom O'Malley had spent 12 years in the organizations of the San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Balitmore Orioles, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos and New York Mets, getting into 466 MLB games during that stretch, before joining the Hanshin Tigers in 1991.  He spent four season with the Tigers, hitting over .300 each season and leading the Central League in batting in 1993.  He moved to the Yakult Swallows for 1995 and didn't miss a beat - hitting .302 with 31 home runs to win the Central League MVP while helping Yakult beat Orix in the Nippon Series.  He hit .315 in 1996 but his home runs dropped to 18 and he headed back to the States after the season ended with a spring training invite from the Rangers.  He retired when he didn't make the team.

1998 BBM Tigers #T220
Alonzo Powell joined the Chunichi Dragons in 1992 after playing in the Giants, Twins, Expos and Mariners organizations.  He led the Central League in batting for three straight years from 1994-96 and was named to the Best 9 team those three years as well.  When his batting average dropped to .253 in 1997 - under .300 for the first time in the six years he had played in Japan, the Dragons didn't renew his contract.  He signed with the Hanshin Tigers for 1998 but only hit .255 in 78 games before being released in August.  He returned to the US in time to get into 15 games that summer with Toronto's Triple-A farm team in Syracuse.  He played two more seasons in the Yankees and Rockies organization before retiring after spending 2001 with the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League.

1999 BBM #387
Makoto Sasaki spent nine seasons with the Hawks (both Nankai and Daiei) before being traded to the Seibu Lions after the 1993 season in the deal that sent Koji Akiyama to Fukuoka.  He spent another five years with the Lions.  He'd been a star for both teams, leading the Pacific League in batting in 1992 and steals in 1992 and 1994.  He was a six time All Star, a six time Best 9 award winner and a four time Golden Glove award winner.  But a serious of injuries in 1998 (back, ankle and knee) limited him to only 75 games in 1998 and the Lions sold him to Hanshin after the season.  Between his age and his health issues, he didn't get much playing time in two seasons with the Tigers - 30 games in 1999 and 16 in 2000 - and he retired midway through the 2000 season.  He reconsidered retirement the following year and traveled to the US, hoping to catch on with an MLB team.  He eventually signed with the Sonoma County Crushers of the independent Western League, hitting .290 in 83 games before retiring for good.

2002 BBM 1st Version #75
Hiroo Ishii had a handful of solid seasons with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in the early 1990's, making the All Star team three times, winning two Best 9 awards and leading the Pacific League in RBIs.  Injuries cost him the better part of the 1995 and 1996 seasons and he got traded to the Yomiuri Giants after that.  He spent three years with the Giants before being traded to the Chiba Lotte Marines.  He left the Marines as a free agent after the 2001 season and signed with the Baystars.  He spent 2002 as a pinch hitter and hit just .208 in 34 games before retiring.  He's now a politician and serves as the Member of the House of Councilors for his home prefecture of Akita.

2003 BBM Nippon Series #33
After six years in MLB, Hideki Irabu returned to Japan with the Hanshin Tigers in 2003.  Initially he did well, going 9-2 during the first half of the season and making the All Star team before tailing off to 4-6 in the second half.  Overall he went 13-8 with an ERA of 3.85 in 27 starts.  He made two starts in the Nippon Series that year and got lit up by the Hawks, posting an ERA of 12.60 in five innings and taking the loss in both games.  2004 didn't go as well, as he only made three starts and went 0-3 with a 13.11 ERA before being released.  He retired although would later attempt a comeback in 2009 first with the Long Beach Armada of the Golden Baseball League and then the Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island League.  He retired for good after that and sadly took his own life in 2011.
2003 BBM 2nd Version #603
Satoshi Nakajima played in NPB for 29 seasons - a record he holds with Kimiyasu Kudoh.  He spent 11 seasons with Hankyu/Orix, five years with the Seibu Lions, 12 seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and ONE year with the Yokohama Baystars.  He was traded to Yokohama by the Lions after the 2002 season and hit just .214 in 19 games.  He was sold to the Fighters after that season and eventually retired after the 2015 season.  He's currently the manager of the Orix Buffaloes.

2003 Calbee #162
Takeshi Yamasaki was a slugging star for the Chunichi Dragons in the 1990's but his numbers had tailed off somewhat as he entered his 30s and the new century.  The Dragons traded him to the BlueWave after the 2002 season and he basically put up the same numbers he had in Nagoya in his first year in Kobe, hitting .232 with 22 home runs in 110 games.  He was publicly unhappy with how new manager Haruki Ihara was using him in 2004 which got him banished to the farm team for much of the season, hitting .245 in just 62 games.  Yamasaki got the last laugh, however, as Orix allowed him to join the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles as part of the Orix-Kintetsu merger/Rakuten expansion musical chairs at the end of the season.  He went on to have a number of outstanding seasons for the Eagles before returning to the Dragons for the last two seasons of his career.  He retired after the 2013 season.

2007 SCM #88
Masato Yoshii had returned to Japan from MLB in 2003 and joined the then Orix BlueWave.  He stayed with Orix through their transformation into the Orix Buffaloes after 2004.  He was in the team's starting rotation in 2007, going 1-6 with an ERA of 5.75 in ten starts.  Buffaloes manager Terry Collins wanted to move him into the bullpen but Yoshii requested a trade because he wanted to remain a starter.  Orix fulfilled his request, dealing him to the Chiba Lotte Marines in late June.  He made four starts with Lotte, going 0-3 with a 13.14 ERA and retired at the end of the season.  It would not be his last time wearing a Marines uniform, however, as he has been the team's pitching coach since 2019.

2010 Giants Pride #30
Masahide Kobayashi pitched for 12 years with the Chiba Lotte Marines before joining the Cleveland Indians for 2008.  He played two seasons in MLB and then returned to Japan, signing with the Yomiuri Giants for 2010.  He pitched well on the Giants farm team, getting into 16 games and posting an ERA of 2.25 but he didn't do as well with the ichi-gun squad, putting up an ERA of 5.14 in 12 games.  The Giants released him after the season and he moved on to have a second "short term stint" in 2011 which we'll get to in a minute.

2010 BBM Hawks #H48
Roberto Petagine had spent six years in NPB - four with the Swallows and two with the Giants - between 1999 and 2004.  He played extremely well, winning the Central MVP in 2001, four Best 9 awards, three Golden Glove awards and leading the CL in home runs twice and RBIs once.  He returned to MLB in 2005 and spent a year with the Boston Red Sox followed by a season with the Seattle Mariners before he announced his retirement.  His retirement didn't stick, however, as he first joined the Diablos Rojos del Mexico of the Mexican League to start 2008 before moving on to play in the KBO with the LG Twins for the rest of 2008 and 2009.  He returned to Japan for 2010, playing in 81 games and hitting .261 with 10 home runs.  He was interested in coming back for 2011, but Softbank decided they didn't need a 40 year old back up first baseman/DH and he retired instead.

2010 Bandai Owners League 04 #088
Keiichi Yabu played for the Hanshin Tigers for eleven seasons before heading to MLB and the Oakland Athletics in 2005.  He had been the Rookie Of The Year in 1994 and made six All Star teams.  He ultimately spent 5 seasons in North America before returning to Japan in 2010.  He signed with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles at the end of July, the last day teams could add new players.  He had been a starter in his days with the Tigers but had switched to the bullpen while overseas.  He made 11 appearances over the last two months of the season, posting an ERA of 4.91.  The Eagles released him after the season and he announced his retirement.

2011 BBM 1st Version #117
Back to Kobayashi.  After being released by the Giants, he took part in the 12 team tryout in the fall of 2010 and signed on with the Orix Buffaloes.  He got into six games at the beginning of the 2011 season but when he had a 13.50 ERA he was banished to the farm team for the remainder of the season and he retired after Orix released him.
2011 Bandai Owners League 04 #093
Saburo Ohmura had a 22 year NPB career from 1995 to 2016 that was spent entirely with the Chiba Lotte Marines EXCEPT for half of the 2011 season.  The Marines traded him to the Yomiuri Giants in late June and he hit .243 in 48 games for them.  He left the Giants as a free agent after the season ended and resigned with the Marines.  He's unique in that he changed his name for his "short term stint".  Because there was another player on the roster with his surname when he originally joined the Marines, his registered name with the team was always just his first name "Saburo".  When he became a Giant though, he went by his full name for the first time.  He went back to "Saburo" when he rejoined the Marines.

2011 BBM Carp #C15
Kobayashi was not the only member of the 2010 Yomiuri Giants bullpen who had a "short term stint" the following year.  Kiyoshi Toyoda was going into his 19th season for 2011 - he'd spent 13 years with the Seibu Lions before joining the Giants for five seasons.  The Giants released him after 2010 and he joined the Carp.  He pitched pretty well for them out of the bullpen, going 2-1 with a 3.08 ERA in 32 games but they let him go when the season ended and he retired.  He's currently the pitching coach of the Lions.

2011 BBM Buffaloes #Bs56
Tomochika Tsuboi burst onto the scene in 1998 with the Hanshin Tigers, setting a record for highest batting average for a rookie with a .327 mark.  After five seasons with Hanshin he was sent to the Nippon-Ham Fighters.  He hit .330 in his first season with the Fighters, becoming the first player ever to hit .300 in his first season in each of the two leagues.  He played well for the Fighters but he had a lot of difficulty staying healthy.  The Fighters released him after the 2010 season and he joined Orix.  He spent most of 2011 on the farm team, getting into just 3 games with the top team.  After Orix released him he spent the following three years playing for various independent league teams in North America.  He retired after briefly playing for the Atlantic League's Lancaster Barnstormers in 2014.

2012 BBM Lions #L13
Micheal Nakamura had pitched in the major leagues for the Twins and Blue Jays before moving to Japan.  Because of his dual citizenship (his father is Japanese) he was able to choose to be considered a domestic player in NPB.  He was drafted by the Fighters in the 2004 draft and spent four years with them before being traded to the Yomiuri Giants.  He spent three seasons with the Giants working out of the bullpen (making him the third player from the Giants 2010 bullpen to appear in this post) before being released after the 2011 season.  He had offers from both the Lions and Fighters for 2012 and ultimately decided on the Lions because of the location of their minor league ballpark - the ni-gun Lions play right next door to the ichi-gun ballpark so he wouldn't be separated from his family if he had to play on the farm team.  Ultimately he played 23 games on the farm team and only 17 with the top team.  His numbers with the top team weren't bad - he went 0-3 with an ERA of 2.86 - but he decided to retire at the end of the year.

2015 Front Runner Giants Game Used Bat Edition #01
After 16 years with the Chunichi Dragons, Hirokazu Ibata was released by the team after the 2013 season.  He signed with the Giants and spent two seasons with them, hitting .256 in 87 games in 2014 and .234 in 98 games in 2015.  He was pretty close friends with his teammate Yoshinobu Takahashi and when Takahashi retired and became the Giants new manager after 2015, Ibata decided to retire to become a coach for him.  He's been a coach for the Samurai Japan since 2017.

2014 SCM #282/BBM 2nd Version #707
Yoshinori Tateyama pitched for 12 years with the Fighters before joining the Texas Rangers in 2011.  He spent about two and a half years with the Rangers until he was traded to the Yankees in the middle of 2013.  The Yankees released him in early 2014 and he returned to Japan.  He signed a contract with the Hanshin Tigers in late June and pitched out of the bullpen for them, getting into eight games and posting an ERA of 3.68.  He retired at the end of the season.  He's also been a coach for Samurai Japan since 2017.
2019 Epoch NPB #295
I hesitated to include some of the more recent players on this list but figured why not - they're still "short term stints".  When Hisashi Iwakuma returned to Japan after seven years in the Mariners organization, he signed with the Yomiuri Giants.  He was still suffering from the shoulder injury that had severely cut into his playing time his last two seasons with Seattle though and he ended up barely pitching for the Giants.  He made just two one inning appearances with the Giants farm team in 2019 and no appearances at all in 2020.  He retired after losing the better part of four seasons to his injury, having never made an appearance with the ichi-gun Giants in the two years he spent with them.

2020 BBM Fusion #608
Wei-Yin Chen had expected that he would spend 2020 pitching for the Seattle Mariners, the team he had signed a contract with in the 2019-20 offseason after eight years with the Chunichi Dragons, four years wth the Baltimore Orioles and four years with the Miami Marlins.  But with everything up in the air due to the pandemic, Seattle released him in June and he eventually ended up back in Japan, signing a contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines in September (the deadline for teams to sign players was later last season since the season started three months late).  He made four starts for the Marines and didn't get any breaks - he went 0-3 despite putting up a 2.42 ERA.  He started Game Two of the Climax Series against the Hawks and got his clock cleaned - giving up five runs in 3 1/3 innings on two two run home runs from Akira Nakamura and a solo shot from Nobuhiro Matsuda.  He left Lotte for the Hanshin Tigers in the off-season.

2020 BBM Fusion #607
Chen was not the only pitcher on the 2020 Chiba Lotte Marines experiencing a "short term stint".  After almost ten seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, Sawamura was dealt to the Marines in early September last year.  He pitched very well in his two months with Lotte, posting a 1.71 ERA in 22 games out of the bullpen.  He left Japan for North America in 2021, joining the Boston Red Sox.

Card Of The Week May 30

On Friday Tigers rookie sensation Teruaki Sato hit three home runs against the Saitama Seibu Lions.  Sato became only the third rookie to ever hit three home runs in a game.  I haven't been able to figure out who the first rookie to do it was but the second was Shigeo Nagashima in 1958.  So Sato did something that no other rookie has done for 63 years.

Since I've showed all the cards I have of Sato with the Tigers so far in my posts for BBM's Rookie Edition and 1st Version sets this year, I thought I'd share a rookie card of Nagashima from the 1958 Doyusha JCM 30a set:

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Hall Of Famers' Most Random Teams

A couple of weeks ago had an article about odd teams that Hall Of Famers briefly played for in their careers.  The first examples it gives are Mike Piazza spending a week playing for the Marlins in 1998 and Ken Griffey Jr. spending a couple months playing for the White Sox ten years later.  The article lists at least one "cameo" appearance by a Hall Of Famer for almost every team.

I thought it might be kind of fun to do something similar for NPB but there were two factors that turned it into a somewhat daunting task.  The first is that players don't switch teams in NPB anywhere near as often as in MLB.  The second is that the Japanese Baseball Hall Of Fame is woefully under populated.  There are any number of players who should be in the Hall but aren't for whatever reason.  No one's been elected on the "Players Division" ballot since 2019 and the "Experts Division" has only elected Koichi Tabuchi in the last two years.  So to make this do-able, I expanded the scope a little.  I decided to include players from the Meikyukai as well as the Hall Of Fame.  I also decided that I'd consider stints longer than the traditional definition of a "short term stop".  My hope is that readers will still go "Oh, yeah, I forgot he played for that team" even if the player in question played for the team for five years.  

Even with expanding the scope as much as I did, one team in particular was difficult.  But we'll get to that.  On the plus side, I was able to come up with 27 examples for the 13 (including Kintetsu) NPB teams and have cards to show for 24 of them.  Obviously that means that I came up with more than one player for several teams.

One note - all players listed are Hall Of Famers unless I specifically mention that they are not.  Not all Hall Of Famers are Meikyukai members but I'm not explicitly mentioning the ones who aren't.  (And for players who are listed multiple times, I'll only mention that they aren't a Hall Of Famer the first time I talk about them.)

Chiba Lotte Marines (including Mainichi/Daimai/Tokyo/Lotte Orions)

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #367
Shigeru Sugishita was a legendary pitcher for the Chunichi Dragons for 10 seasons from 1949 to 1958 before taking over as manager in 1959.  The Dragons fired him after the 1960 season and he joined the Daimai Orions as their new pitching coach for 1961.  He eventually got activated as a player and made 32 appearances, mostly in relief, going 4-6 with 2.44 ERA before retiring for good as a player at the end of the year.

1978 Yamakatsu JY10

Katsuya Nomura had spent 24 seasons with the Nankai Hawks, including the last eight as player-manager, before being fired and released by the team after the 1977 season.  He joined the Lotte Orions for one season in 1978, hitting .226 with just three home runs, before moving on.  We'll be seeing him again later.

2016 BBM The Ballpark Stories #113
Isao Harimoto had spent 21 years playing for the Flyers/Fighters and Giants and was close to 3000 hits when he was released by the Giants after missing about half of the 1979 season due to an eye injury.  He signed with Lotte and became the first (and so far only) NPB player to reach 3000 hits on May 28th, 1980.  He also picked up his 500th home run that season.  All in all he spent two years with the Orions before retiring at the end of the 1981 season.

Chunichi Dragons

1961 Marusan JCM 12d

Wally Yonamine was the first American to play in Japan after World War II.  He joined the Giants in 1951 and spent ten seasons with them.  The Giants let him go after he only hit .226 in 1960 and he joined the Dragons.  He only hit .178 in 76 games in 1961 and .214 in 17 games in 1962 before he retired.  He would go on to manage the Dragons from 1972 to 1977, leading the team to the Nippon Series in 1974 for the first time in 20 years (and also breaking the Giants' consecutive Central League pennant streak at nine).

2015 Epoch Dragons X Mizuno #03

I hesitated on including some of the more recent players but enough time has passed on a couple of these that people may have forgotten that these players were on these teams.  After 16 seasons with the Nippon-Ham Fighters and Yomiuri Giants, Michihiro Ogasawara finished his career with two seasons with the Dragons.  He was mostly a pinch hitter in those two seasons, hitting .301 in 81 games in 2014 and .294 in 53 games in 2015.  He is the first player I've mentioned so far who is not in the Hall Of Fame.

I considered including Norihiro Nakamura here but since he was MVP of the 2007 Nippon Series I decided that people had probably not forgotten he was with the Dragons, even though he only spent two years in Nagoya.

Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (including Nankai and Fukuoka Daiei Hawks)

1987 Takara Hawks #7
Hideji Katoh is going to be making multiple appearances in this post.  Katoh had spent 14 years with the Hankyu Braves from 1969 to 1982 and was their star first baseman when they won six Pacific League pennnants and three Nippon Series Championships between 1971 and 1978.  The last five years of his career, however, were spent on four different teams.  He finished his career with the Nankai Hawks in 1987, hitting .260 in 110 games and getting his 2000th hit on May 7th against his former team.  He is not in the Hall Of Fame.

Hanshin Tigers 

2015 Epoch Tigers Champions 1985 #03
Tetsuya Yoneda was a workhorse for the Hankyu Braves starting in 1956 but when his opportunities to pitch lessened in 1975 he agreed to a trade to the crosstown Hanshin Tigers and spent a year and a half with them.  This is somewhat appropriate as he had signed contracts with both Hankyu and Hanshin out of high school and a judge ruled that the Hanshin one was invalid.  Yoneda will be making another appearance in this post.  I don't have a card of him as a player with the Tigers - the above card shows his as a coach with the 1985 Tigers.

1993 BBM #342
Hiromi Matsunaga was another player who was traded from Hankyu to Hanshin - or more accurately from Orix to Hanshin.  Matsunaga had spent 12 seasons with the Hankyu/Orix Braves/BlueWave from 1981 to 1992 before being traded to the Tigers for Koji Noda.  He had an injury plagued year with Hanshin in 1993 and declared for free agency at the end of the season.  He made NPB history when he became the first player to ever switch teams as a free agent, signing a contract with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.  He spent four seasons with the Hawks before attempting to move to MLB.  He attended spring training with the Oakland Athletics in 1998 but he did not make the team and decided to retire.  He finished his career with 1904 hits, 96 hits short of what he would need to qualify for the Meikyukai.  However, he got another 99 hits in the Masters League in the 00's and was considered an "honorary member" of the club.  He was listed as a member on the club's website until the Masters League folded in 2009 whereupon it appears that his "honorary membership" was revoked.  I decided to include him anyway because the story was too good to skip.

Hiroshima Toyo Carp

1983 Calbee #193
I mentioned previously that Hideji Katoh had spent the last five years of his career with four different teams.  That odyssey started when he was traded by Hankyu to the Carp after the 1982 season for Jitsuo Mizutani.  He only spent one year with the Carp, hitting .261 while limited to only 75 games due to a bout with hepatitis.  He was traded again after the season to the next team that I'll be mentioning him with.

2011 BBM Carp #C47
Like Ogasawara, Takuro Ishii's lesser known team is relatively recent and at four years is somewhat longer than any of the other stints I've mentioned.  Ishii had spent 20 years with the Yokohama Taiyo Whales/Baystars - the first several as a pitcher - before the team released him at the end of the 2008 season and he joined the Carp.  He spent most of his four years in Hiroshima as a backup infielder and pinch hitter and retired following the 2012 season.  He is not in the Hall Of Fame.

Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters

1997 Calbee #023
Hiromitsu Ochiai wrapped up his 20 year NPB career with two seasons with the Nippon-Ham Fighters in 1997 and 1998.  He'd been released by the Giants after 1996 when they signed Kazuhiro Kiyohara but managed to stay in the same home ballpark as the Fighters were still in Tokyo and sharing the Tokyo Dome with Yomiuri at the time.  Although he has 2000 hits, he has declined membership to the Meikyukai but since he was elected to the Hall Of Fame in 2011, I didn't have to include him on a technicality.

Orix Buffaloes (including Hankyu Braves and Orix Braves/BlueWave)

1989 Lotte #40
At the end of the 1988 season, the Nankai Hawks were sold to the Daiei corporation who moved the team from Osaka to Fukuoka.  40 year old Hiromitsu Kadota, the team's star designated hitter who had hit 44 home runs to lead the Pacific League that year as well as win the MVP award, decided that he didn't want to move west to Kyushu.  The Hawks accommodated him, trading him to the Orix Braves for three players.  He spent two productive seasons with Orix, hitting .305 with 33 home runs in 1989 and .280 with 31 home runs in 1990.  He moved west to rejoin the Hawks in 1991 and retired after the 1992 season.

2006 SCM #65
Norihiro Nakamura had spent 13 seasons with the Kintetsu Buffaloes before leaving for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization for the 2005 season.  He decided to return to Japan for the 2006 season and was convinced by Akira Ohgi who had been Nakamura's manager with Kintetsu in the early 1990's and had managed the new Orix Buffaloes (born of the "merger" between the Kintetsu Buffaloes and Orix BlueWave after the 2004 season) in 2005 to join his team.  Tragically, however, Ohgi passed away suddenly in December of 2005 and Nakamura had an injury plagued season in 2006, hitting just .232 in 85 games.  He was released by Orix when they couldn't agree on a contract for 2007 and joined the Dragons first as an ikusei player in February, 2007 before making the official 70 man roster the following month.  Nakamura is not in the Hall Of Fame.  He'll appear again in this post. 

2006 Calbee #025
Nakamura wasn't the only player who'd made his name with another team joining Orix in 2006.  Kazuhiro Kiyohara had already played in NPB for 20 years (11 with the Lions and 9 with the Giants) and had reached both the 2000 hit and 500 home run milestones before becoming a Buffalo.  He'd had injury issues during most of his tenure with Yomiuri and had been released after the 2005 season.  His issues continued in his three seasons with Orix, limiting him to just 89 games over three seasons before he retired after the 2008 season.  Kiyohara is not in the Hall Of Fame and his 2016 arrest for possession of illegal drugs makes it unlikely that he ever will be.

Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes

2016 BBM Fusion #092
When the Tigers released Yoneda in 1976 he signed on with the Kintetsu Buffaloes (who were managed by former Hankyu manager Yukio Nishimoto) for one last season.  He went 2-2 in only 12 games but it was enough for him to finish his career with 350 wins (becoming only the second pitcher to reach that milestone) and 949 appearances, passing Masaichi Kaneda for most all time (a record that he held until he was passed by Hitoki Iwase in 2016).

I don't have a card for it but the Buffaloes were the next stop after the Carp on Hideji Katoh's five year walk-about through NPB.  Healthy again, he spent two seasons with Kintetsu and played pretty well, hitting .253 in 130 games in 1984 and .286 with 26 home runs in 129 games as a full time DH in 1985 before switching teams again.

Saitama Seibu Lions (including Nishitetsu/Taiheiyo Club/Crown Lighter Lions)

1974/75 Calbee #860
Shinichi Eto had a similar multi-team odyssey to Hideji Katoh.  After an 11 year career with the Chunichi Dragons, Eto was traded to the Lotte Orions in time for the 1970 season.  After two years with Lotte he moved on to the Taiyo Whales in a trade and spent three seasons with them in Kawasaki.  He was traded again to the Taiheiyo Club Lions and was named player-manager for them for the 1975 season.  He didn't have a very good season on the field that year, hitting .228 in 88 games (although he reached the 2000 hit milestone that season) and the team went 58-62-10, finishing third overall in the Pacific League although that doesn't tell the whole story.  The Pacific League used a split season format from 1973 to 1982.  The Lions went 30-29-6 in the first half of 1975 which put them in second place six games behind first place Hankyu.  In the second half, however, they slumped to fourth place with a 28-33-4 record, finishing 12 1/2 games behind the first place Kintetsu Buffaloes.  Eto was fired as manager and released as a player.  The Lions had actually hired Leo Durocher to replace him but Durocher's poor health eventually caused him to not take the position.  Eto finished his career in 1976 back with the Lotte Orions.

1979 TCMA #13
After his one season with Lotte in 1978, Katsuya Nomura moved onto the Lions.  The Lions themselves were on the move, having been purchased that winter by Seibu and moved from Fukuoka to Kanto.  Nomura spent two seasons in Tokorozawa, hitting .222 in 74 games in 1979 and .217 in 52 games in 1980.  He was named to the All Star team in 1980 which made him the only player to ever play in an All Star game in four different decades (50's, 60's, 70's and 80's).  He retired after 1980, bringing to an end a playing career that had started in 1954.

1984 Takara Kids Lions #18
Yutaka Entasu is one of the most fascinating players in NPB history.  I did a post on him a few years back that listed all the amazing things he did in his career.  His final season was in 1984 with the Seibu Lions.  He was the closer for the first half of the season and went 1-2 with 8 saves and a 3.65 ERA in 20 games.  He wasn't healthy that year and when the Lions dropped out of contention, the team decided to go with younger players for the second half and Enatsu made his final appearance on July 12th.  While he had announced his retirement while with Seibu, he made an attempt to continue his career the following spring with the Milwaukee Brewers.  He retired when he didn't make the team - he reportedly was one of the Brew Crew's final cuts that spring.  Despite all his achievements Enatsu is not in the Hall Of Fame - like Kiyohara, he was arrested for illegal stimulants although unlike Kiyohara, Enatsu actually served time in prison.  I believe at one point he had renounced his Meikyukai membership because of the arrest but their website currently shows him as a member.

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles

2009 BBM 1st Version #169
After two seasons with the Dragons, Norihiro Nakamura moved on to the Eagles for the 2009 season.  He was the first free agent ever signed by Rakuten.  Back issues limited him to a .221 average in only 77 games in 2009 but he bounced back somewhat in 2010, hitting .266 with 13 home runs in 129 games.  He got hurt again towards the end of the season and the Eagles let him go when the season was done.  He moved on to play for the Baystars for the last four years of his career.

Tokyo Yakult Swallows

I'm going to be honest here - it was impossible to find a "short term stint" for a Hall Of Famer or Meikyukai member with the Swallows.  Almost every Swallow I could come up with - Masaichi Kaneda, Atsuya Furuta, Tsutomu Wakamatsu, Katsuo Osugi, Atsunori Inaba, and Shinya Miyamoto - spent at least nine years with the team - if not their entire career.  I ended up going with two guys who are questionable - one who played SEVEN years with the team and the other who is an active player.

2001 BBM #339
It's unlikely, but I'm kind of hoping that everyone has forgotten that Alex Ramirez started his Japanese career with the Swallows.  He played for them from 2001 to 2007 before moving on the Giants (2008-11) and Baystars (2012-13).  He's the only foreign player in the Meikyukai.  He is not in the Hall Of Fame.

2021 BBM 1st Version #311
It's pretty unlikely that anyone is going to have forgotten that Seiichi Uchikawa was a Swallow given that he's currently on the team.  He joined them this past winter after a 20 year career with the Baystars (2001-10) and Hawks (2011-20).  At the time of this post, he's only played in five games and is hitting .238.  He's (obviously) not in the Hall Of Fame.

Yokohama DeNA Baystars (including Taiyo Whales, Yokohama Taiyo Whales, Yokahama Baystars)

Masaaki Koyama had retired at the end of the 1972 season after a 20 year career with the Tigers (1953-63) and Orions (1964-72) and become the pitching coach for the Taiyo Whales.  Midway through the season though he was pressed into returning to active service and went 4-4 with an ERA of 2.54 in 15 games before hanging up his spikes for good.  I don't have a card of him with the Whales.

2009 BBM Baystars #YB28
Kimiyasu Kudoh had already been playing for 25 years before he joined the Yokohama Baystars in 2007 - 13 years with the Lions, five with the Hawks and seven with the Giants.  His first season in Yokohama wasn't bad, going 7-6 with a 3.91 ERA in 19 games but his recovery from off-season elbow surgery limited him to just three games in 2008 in which he went 0-2 with a 5.27 ERA.  He moved into the bullpen for 2009 and went 2-3 with an ERA of 6.51 in 46 games (but just 37 1/3 innings).  The Baystars released him at the end of the year and he rejoined the Lions for one final season in 2010.

Yomiuri Giants

1981 Calbee #328
Makoto Matsubara had spent 19 years with the Whales when he was traded to the Giants prior to the 1981 season.  New Giants manager Motoshi Fujita said that Matsubara would be the only guy who could take over at first base for the team after Tetsuharu Kawakami and Sadaharu Oh.  Matsubara would actually only play 27 games at first - Kiyoshi Nakahata and (the other) Koji Yamamoto would play in 75 games at first that year.  In total, Matsubara would only play in 36 games, hitting .233 with only one home run.  He hit another home run in the Nippon Series that fall though - the only Nippon Series he would play in - and retired a champion at the end of the season.  He is not in the Hall Of Fame.

I don't have a card of him with the Giants, but Hideji Katoh spent one season with Yomiuri in 1986 - in between his two years with Kintetsu and his final year with Nankai.  He hit .219 in 68 games and was released at the end of the season.

2004 BBM Giants #G047
When people compare the Yomiuri Giants to the New York Yankees, I usually counter that the Giants have pulled stuff that the Yankees can only dream of.  The Hiroki Kokubo episode is one of the examples I'll use.  Kokubo was in his ninth season with the  Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in 2003 when he suffered a season ending knee injury in a collision in a spring training game.  He spent the year getting ready to return in 2004 when he was unexpectedly traded to the Yomiuri Giants that fall for nothing.  You read that right - nothing.  The Hawks gave the Kokubo to the Giants for free.  Sure, it was a bit of  gamble for Yomiuri as there was no way to know for sure how a 32 year old would bounce back after being out for a year with a knee injury but still - for nothing?  The speculation has always been that Daiei was planning on selling the team and wanted to ensure that the Giants would vote to approve the sale.  And sure enough, Daiei sold the Hawks to Softbank after the 2004 season and the Giants voted to approve it.  Kokubo bounced back with a fine season in 2004, hitting .314 with 41 home runs and 96 RBIs.  His 2005 numbers were a little lower at .281 with 34 home runs and 87 RBIs.  He missed about a third or so of the 2006 season with a thumb injury and hit only .256 with 19 home runs in 88 games.  He left the Giants as a free agent after that year and rejoined the Hawks for the remaining six years of his career.  He is not in the Hall Of Fame.