Saturday, June 19, 2021

RIP Minoru Nakamura

The news broke this past week that former Yomiuri Giants pitcher Minoru Nakamura had passed away earlier this month at the age of 82.  Nakamura had signed with the Giants after graduating from Ujiyamada Shogyo High School in 1957.  He had his first taste of success as a professional after Don Drysdale taught him how to throw a change-up when the Giants did spring training with the Dodgers in Vero Beach in 1961.  He went 17-10 with a 2.13 ERA that season and got the win (in relief) in the decisive Game Six of the Nippon Series against the Nankai Hawks that fall.  He won the "Outstanding Technique" Award for the Series.  Shoulder injuries and a traffic accident cost him playing time over the next couple seasons but he posted what was probably the best year of his career in 1965, going 20-4 with an ERA of 2.21.  He started and lost Game Four of the Nippon Series that year.  In 1966 he had his last season as a regular starter in the Giants rotation, going 11-7 with a 2.77 ERA.  He started Game Five of the Nippon Series and threw eight innings without getting a decision in a game the Giants ultimately lost in 14 innings to the Hawks.  After a couple seasons with diminished playing time he retired after the 1969 season.  He was a three time All Star, making the team in 1962, 1965 and 1966.  He had three coaching stints for the Giants after he retired (1970-77, 1981-83 and 1989-92) along with one with the Chiba Lotte Marines (1997-98).

Nakamura had a number of cards in various vintage sets during his career, highlighted by his appearance in the 1967 Kabaya-Leaf set.  He also appeared as a coach in the 1983 NST set.  He's been a regular in the couple Giants OB sets from both BBM and Epoch over the past 20 years or so although he hasn't been in any of the more general OB sets.  I don't have any of the cards from his playing career but I have the NST card and his "modern" cards:

1983 NST #200

2004 BBM Giants 70th Anniversary #025

2014 Epoch Giants V9 Glorious Victory #32

2014 BBM Giants 80th Anniversary #25

2020 BBM Giants History 1934-2020 #14

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