Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Active Former Olympians

The Opening Ceremony for the pandemic delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics happens this Friday but the competition has already started.  Both the softball and women's soccer events have started and baseball will be kicking off in about a week.

I'm of two minds about the Games.  On the one hand, I love international baseball tournaments so I'm very excited for the baseball portion of the competition to start.  On the other hand...there's STILL a pandemic going on and it's probably a bad idea to do hold the games.  But since they ARE holding the games, I might as well try to enjoy the baseball and hope for the best for everyone health-wise.  It will be interesting to see how serious the Japanese government takes the coronavirus AFTER the Olympics are over.

I'm planning on doing some posts for the Olympic teams over the next week but I wanted to start with a quick post about former Japanese Olympic baseball players who are still active in either NPB or MLB.  There are nine active players who have played in the Olympics for Japan.  It's hard to believe but there's actually still an active player from the 1996 Atlanta Games - Kosuke Fukudome of the Dragons.  This was still the pre-professional period for Olympic baseball and the Japanese team was made up of mostly corporate league players (including Fukudome who played for Nippon Life) along with a couple collegiate players.  There are two active players remaining from the 2000 Sydney Games - Masanori Ishikawa of the Swallows and Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Lions - although it's a bit of a generous definition of "active" for Matsuzaka.  The 2000 team was a mish-mash of professional (Matsuzaka), corporate league and collegiate (like Ishikawa) player.  The remaining two Olympic baseball teams were purely professional outfits.  There are three active players from the 2004 Athens Games - Fukudome, Matsuzaka and Tsuyoshi Wada of the Hawks.  There are six players still playing from the 2008 Beijing Games - Norichika Aoki of the Swallows, Yu Darvish of the Padres, Hiroyuki Nakajima of the Yomiuri Giants, Masahiro Tanaka and Hideaki Wakui of the Eagles and Wada.  Tanaka is the only former Olympian to make this year's team.

Here's a card of each player.  I tried to pick either Olympic team cards or other National Team cards for each player but Ishikawa never played for the National Team after the 2000 Olympics (and the Upper Deck Olympic cards for the team didn't include the collegiate players) so I had to settle for a card of him with the Swallows.

2008 BBM Japan National Team #JPN25

2009 Konami WBC Heroes "Special" #W09S001

2006 Upper Deck WBC Moments #CM-23

2009 BBM 1st Version #521

2000 Upper Deck Sydney Olympic Games Japanese Team Cards #213

2008 BBM Japan National Team #JPN19

2008 BBM Japan National Team #JPN07

2003 BBM Japan National Team #11

2008 BBM Japan National Team #JPN08


Brady DiCarlo said...

Baseball and Basketball are probably the only sports I’m going to watch. Is the NPB stopping the season to allow players to participate?

NPB Card Guy said...

Yes. The All Star games were held last week and the league is in a break now until August 13th.

Fuji said...

My brother and I were talking about how Japan was in a tough spot. On one hand, most of the citizens didn't want a bunch of people coming into their country during a pandemic... but on the other hand so much money and time had been invested by both the country and all of the participating athletes who prepared for the games. Not sure if there is a solution where both sides are happy.

Brady DiCarlo said...

In Japanese Baseball news Shigeo Nagashima, Sadaharu Oh, and Hideki Matsui each carried the torch during the opening ceremony.

NPB Card Guy said...

Yeah, that was really cool to see. Hard to see Nagashima in such poor shape though. He's 85 and he's never fully recovered from the stroke he had back in 2004. I hope I look as good as Oh does when I'm 80 though!