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|