I felt the need to post something a bit different today, so I went poking around my folders full of scanned card images to see if anything jumped out at me. I ran across a bunch of scans from my 1979 TCMA Japan Pro Baseball set, and I knew that it was the kind of thing I was looking for.
These cards are from a 90 card set which, intentional or not, ended up being a one-time endeavor. The set featured current-at-the-time players and managers from both the Central and Pacific Leagues in Nippon Pro Baseball, and today I’m going to feature four American players.
Bobby Mitchell started off in the Red Sox organization, was selected by the Yankees in the Rule V Draft, and was later traded to the Brewers. He’d spend 4 seasons with Milwaukee before going to Japan.
Mitchell played 4 years with the Fighters, batting .250 with 113 homers, 255 runs and 294 RBI.
Dave Hilton was the first overall pick in the January, 1971 draft, and made it to the Padres in short order. He’s one of the players who got the “Washington Nat’l Lea.” treatment in 1974.
Hilton played in 1978 and 1979 with the Swallows, being named to the Central League’s 1978 “Best Nine” team and playing in that year’s Japan Series. In 1980, he would play for the guy on the next card…
Don Blasingame played 12 seasons with the Cards, Senators, Reds, Giants and A’s, and then had a second career in Japan; he spent 14 years there playing, coaching and managing.
Blasingame managed the Tigers in 1979 and 1980, and then managed the Nankai Hawks for two years.
When I was a teenager I loved these Hanshin Tigers caps and would’ve killed for one. I never did get one, but I still ponder it sometime (but it would have to be one like this with a yellow bill and yellow and white logo).
Adrian Garrett played for the Braves, Cubs, A’s and Angels over 8 seasons and only made it into 163 games over those 8 seasons. He played 3 years in Japan, hit 102 homers, scored 193 runs and drove in 247 more.
He’s also the older brother of former Mets/Expos infielder Wayne Garrett.
So there you go… Nobody remotely resembling a Hall-Of-Famer today, but hopefully some of you are also open to a change of pace.