Today’s Fast Five features players from one of my favorite all-time oddball sets, the 1979 TCMA Japanese Baseball set. I don’t remember exactly when I got this set, but I know I’ve had it since the early 1980’s and it was a significant part of my general fascination with the game in Japan.
Bobby Jones was a local kid (Elkton, MD) who got drafted out of high school by the Senators in 1967. He didn’t make it to the Majors until a cup of coffee in 1974, by which point the “local team” had become the Texas Rangers. He went to the Angels on waivers, would play two seasons for the Chunichi Dragons, returned and played for the Rangers again. He’d go on to have a long career in the Rangers organization, retiring after 2016 – his 50th season in professional baseball.
Bobby Jones is the king of oddball cards… Aside from this Japanese set, he’s been in a multitude of minor league sets (as a player and manager), team-issued sets and several Senior League sets.
Chris Arnold spent 6 seasons with the Giants, shuttling between San Francisco and AAA Phoenix. He’d play three seasons with the Kintetsu Buffaloes to end his career.
He appeared in Topps sets in 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1977.
Leroy Stanton played for the Mets (9 games), Angels and Mariners before a single season with the Hanshin Tigers and a year in the Mexican League.
Stanton was sent to the Angels as part of the infamous Nolan Ryan/Jim Fregosi trade.
Leron Lee was drafted 7th overall in 1966 and put in 8 years with the Cardinals, Padres, Indians and Dodgers before starting a second career in Japan. Leron played 11 seasons for the Lotte Orions. He hit 283 homers in Japan, and according to baseball-reference.com holds the NPB record by batting .320 over his career.
Just a little uniform note… The Orions were wearing the “racing stripes” down their shoulders and sides before the Expos, Mets and Indians did it in the Majors.
Leron’s younger brother Leon was also drafted by the Cardinals and got as high as AAA before following Leron over to the Orions. He also played for the Taiyo Whales and Yakult Swallows. He once held the record for most homers hit by a foreign-born player, a record since broken by Tuffy Rhodes.
Leon is also the father of former Major Leaguer Derrek Lee, who played for the Cubs, Marlins and 4 other teams.