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Japanese Baseball Card Pick of the Week – BBM 2012 No-Hitters baseball card – Eiji Sawamura (沢村 栄治)

eijisawamura

One of my favorite BBM card releases was back in 2012 with the NO-HITTERS release.

The baseball cards were printed on  a thicker card stock and would feature classic photos of pitchers from long ago.

As Cy Young is recognized for his achievements in the United States and awards that go to the best pitcher each year for the National and American League since 1956.

In Japan, the equivalent would be the Sawamura Eiji Award (established in 1947) in which pitchers such as Kintetsu Buffaloes’ Nomo Hideo (1990), Yomiuri Giants’ Saito Masaki (1995-1996), Seibu Lions’ Matsuzaka Daisuke  (2001), Yomiuri Giants’ Uehara Koji (1999, 2002), Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ Yu Darvish (2007), Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles’ Tanaka Masahiro (2011, 2013), to name a few, have won.  And in Japan, only one pitcher can win that award.

But the man behind the award, Sawamura Eiji is a legend but also a pitcher who died way too early.

In 1934, a 17-year-old Sawamura faced MLB powerhouse sluggers Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Charlie Gehringer and struck out nine batters in five innings pitch, until Gehrig hit a home run in the seventh inning.

Sawamura would join the Yomiuri Giants in 1936 and pitched his first no-hitter on Sept. 25, 1936 and his second no-hitter would come in May 1, 1937 against the Hanshin Tigers, which is the card I have selected for this week’s card of the week.  That year, he was 33-10 and had a 1.38 ERA.  From 1937 through 1943, in 105 games pitched, he had 554 strikeouts and a 1.74 ERA.

As most players were enlisted in the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, Sawamura was killed in the battle in 1947 near Yakushima when his ship was torpedoed.

Sawamura is still remembered today for his outstanding pitching and also each year with the Eiji Sawamura Award given to the best pitcher of that year in the NPB.