Sunday, February 11, 2024


Eagles first baseman Ginji Akaminai, who has gone by just "Ginji" his entire career, announced his retirement back in November.  Ginji had been originally drafted by the Eagles as a catcher in the third round of the high school portion of the 2005 draft out of Morioka Chuo High School in Iwate.  He hit well on the farm team his first couple years but he didn't make his debut with the ichi-gun team until 2010, a year after he converted to being an infielder.  He only played in two games with the top team that year but he hit .367 with the farm team, although he didn't have enough at bats to qualify for the batting title.  He hit .345 the next year and DID have enough at bats to qualify for the batting crown.

He was up with the top team for good the following year, hitting .280 and hit over .300 the next three seasons, including the Eagles Championship year of 2013.  The Eagles bounced him all over the field during this period, with him playing first, second, third and right field.  He finally settled in at first in 2016, although he'd occasionally still play second (and memorably was the emergency catcher for one game in 2019).  2019 turned out to be the last year he played in over 100 games with the top team.  I don't know if he was injured or just performed poorly but he was only in 88 games in 2020, only 35 in 2021, bounced back to 83 in 2022 and then only six last year.  He had considered continuing to play after the Eagles released him in October but he announced his retirement the next month.  He'll be some sort of "ambassador" for Rakuten and will promote baseball in the Tohoku region.

He won two Best 9 awards (2014 & 2017), one Golden Glove award (2017) and made the All Star team twice (2014 & 2019).  He never played for Samurai Japan in any of the major tournaments but he played in friendlies against the MLB All Stars in 2014, the European All Stars in 2015 and Taiwan in 2016.  (He had been considered for the 2015 Premier 12 team but ultimately was not selected.)

Ginji's first card was #42 in the 2006 BBM Rookie Edition set.  His only other 2006 cards were both BBM cards - #212 in the 1st Version set and #E45 in the Eagles set.  His only cards over the next four years were in BBM's Eagles team set - his first non-BBM card wasn't until Konami had a card of him in 2011 (although he likely was in the Eagles team-issued sets over this stretch).  2012 saw him get a BBM flagship card again (2nd Version #528) and his first Calbee card (#172 in Series Three) along with more Konami cards and some Bandai cards.  He appeared in both the 1st and 2nd Version set each year from 2013 to 2022 and was in 1st Version in 2023.  He also appeared in every Calbee set from 2012 to 2020, although not in any of their sets in the past three years.  Here's some of his cards:

2006 BBM Rookie Edition #42

2006 BBM 1st Version #212

2010 BBM Eagles #E53

2012 BBM 2nd Version #528

2012 Calbee #172

2013 BBM 1st Version #260

2015 Eagles Team Issued Set #SS1-09

2016 Eagles Team Issued Set #J2

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-29

2017 Calbee #028

2019 BBM 2nd Version #475 (Secret Version)

2020 Calbee #017

2023 Epoch NPB #133

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