My pick for Japanese Baseball Card of the Week goes to Hideki Matsui from the BBM Historic Collection 2013.
The 2013 Historic Collection celebrated the players with a certain number and in Japan, Matsui was known for his #55. Which also represents the single-season home run record held by Sadaharu Oh.
While the card is nothing special in terms of rareness or being valuable, I selected the card primarily for bias as a fan. He was one of my favorite players in the NPB and MLV and was always impressed how this right hander hit left-handed and threw right-handed.
Matsui played 10 years with the Yomiuri Giants (where he one the Central League’s MVP award three times) and played the next seven seasons with the New York Yankees (2003-2009), winning the World Series MVP for the Yankees in 2009. Matsui also played for the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays.
I will always remember when his team played at Koshien and the opposing team used the strategy of throwing five consecutive walks. His team lost Koshien and drew a lot of attention of unsportsman like conduct on the opposing team, despite that team winning Koshien. But it will be a memorable game, especially fans showing their displeasure and throwing their megaphones out to the field in anger.
But being the stoic guy that he is (including his first grand slam with the New York Yankees, which was his first game at Yankee Stadium), he is not a complainer and takes things as they are.
He led the Yomiuri Giants to four Japan Series and winning the title in 1994, 2000 and 2002 and that final year, he had 50 home runs.
And yes, I still sport my Godzilla #55 Yankees jersey to this day!