03 January 2010

2000 Epoch Pro Baseball stickers box break (pack 3)

Pack three

The rundown:

So Taguchi - Looking back at his career in NPB, one can't really say he was a disappointment in MLB. I mean, he wasn't exactly a superstar in Japan. These days it's highly doubtful he would have been signed to a Major League contract at all, but he lucked out by being a free agent (hence, no posting fee) riding on Ichiro's coattails.

Tetsuya Iida - A 1987 draft pick by the Yakult Swallows, he would spend the 1989-2004 seasons with the team. Primarily a speedy infielder, stealing 193 bases before injury slowed him down in 1997. Somewhat injury-prone, Iida wouldn't play more than 105 games a season after '97. He retired in 2006 as a member of the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Takashi Mutoh - a relatively short career, Mutoh would play second base for the Kintetsu Buffaloes from 1996-2002, hitting .311 with 20 SB in 2000.

Melvin Bunch - I'd never heard of him before getting into Japanese baseball cards, but it would appear Melvin & I must have lived in the same town for awhile as he was born & raised in Texarkana, TX. I lived there from 1981-1985, so we probably even went to all the same Liberty Eylau schools. Nifty! He started his pro career as a prospect in the Royals system, before posting a 11.70 ERA for Seattle in 1999 and thinking it might be a good idea to see what the deal was in Japan. He signed with the Chunichi Dragons (and played along side Kosuke Fukudome for a few seasons) and was much more successful, posting W-L records of 14-8, 10-8 & 7-7, while keeping his ERA under 3.40 each year.

Mitsuru Manaka - First sacker & centerfielder for Yakult from 1993-2008, topping .300 five times in his career. Apparently Iida's injuries are what gave Manaka a fair amount of his playing time.

Daisuke Miyamoto - Part of the Buffaloes system from 2000-2009, it's too bad there isn't a good resource for the Japanese minor leagues, as that's where Miyamoto has spent the bulk of his career. As he was drafted in 2000, that would make this sticker from his first professional season. He wouldn't make the big team until 2001.

Ken Suzuki - Long-time first baseman for the Seibu Lions. Was Seibu's #1 draft pick in 1988 and played parts of 14 seasons with them before moving on to finish his career with the Yakult Swallows.

Tomochika Tsuboi - Began his career with the Hanshin Tigers, but had his best year in 2003 with the Nippon Ham Fighters (the company that owns the team is "Nippon Ham"...they aren't called the "Ham Fighters"...that would just be silly), hitting a career high .330 in 123 games.

Yu Sugimoto - RHP drafted by the Orix BlueWave in 1997, Sugimoto would also spend a couple years with the Yokohama BayStars and the Yakult Swallows. Primarily a middle reliever, I think his career 4.93 ERA over 8 seasons pretty much tells the story.

And rounding out the pack looks to be the right-center piece of the puzzle of slugger Tomoaki Kanemoto. Kanemoto has racked up some 442 career home runs with Hiroshima and Hanshin, which ranks him 14th in the Nippon Professional Baseball all-time home run rankings. And lest you think the Nippon Professional Baseball All-Time Home Run Rankings was just a wild Tazmanian dance craze in the '70s, it was also a successful run of blog posts in 2009.

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