Former Hiroshima Carp outfielder Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama passed away earlier this week at age 91. Hirayama was born in Exeter, California to Japanese immigrant parents. He spent several years during World War II interred in the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona. He was a star athlete at both football and baseball at Fresno State and signed with the St Louis Browns after graduating. He played one season with Stockton in the California League in 1952 before drafted into the Army. Upon discharge he signed with the Carp at the urging of legendary Japanese-American baseball figure Kenichi Zenimura.
Hirayama was one of the first of the nisei Japanese-Americans who played in NPB during the 1950's and early 1960's. He had a 10 year career with the Carp from 1955 to 1964 and made the All Star team twice (1956 and 1958). His career was cut short by injury - he suffered nerve damage after running into a wall that damaged the vision in his right eye. He coached for the Carp for one year after his playing days were over and later scouted for both the Angels and Carp. He also had a stint running the Carp's Dominican Academy.
There are no modern cards of Hirayama available - other than Wally Yonamine the nisei players from the 1950's have pretty much been ignored in BBM and Epoch's OB sets - but he had several menko, bromide and gum cards during his playing career. Here are the only two that I have:
|1958 "Who Am I?" menko (JCM 54)|
|1959 JBR 5|