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Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?

Discussion in the Ask the Commish forum
Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
Hi,

I am a new Yakyu fan - after a recent visit to relatives in Japan - and I wanted to send them some American baseball cards. I was interested in sending more than just Ichiro, Matsuzaka and Hideki Matsui though. I want to send them MLB cards of the best American players to ever play Yakyu. I know some of them, but could you add to my list? It would be helpful to know who the best were. Here's who I'm thinking (and please correct me if I'm wrong or make additions). Thank you! Domo arigato!
  • Leron Lee
  • Bobby Rose
  • Randy Bass
  • Warren Cromartie
  • Tuffy Rhodes
* I would add Victor Starffin, but I don't think he played in the Majors (i.e. no card).
** Alex Cabrera maybe? He's not American, but played in the MLB briefly I think.
Comments
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Jul 1, 2009 8:01 PM ]

See this article [Baseball Guru] written a few years ago now for some other names.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Jul 1, 2009 8:51 PM ]

Does it have to be best in Yakyu? If not;

Rich Gossage (only Yakyu player to be voted in so far)
Larry Doby (no need to elaborate)

Honorable mention;

Lefty O'Doul (not a Yakyu player but inducted to the Japanese HOF: Has there ever been a card for him?)
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Rocksfan | Posted: Jul 1, 2009 9:04 PM | CHU Fan ]

Starffin was Russian, not American.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: guest | Posted: Jul 1, 2009 11:21 PM ]

Don't forget Kevin Mench and Lou Ford!

Sorry, had to add that.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Kiyoshi | Posted: Jul 1, 2009 11:44 PM | HAN Fan ]

Without a doubt - Val Snow followed by Joe Pepitone!
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: Isaac | Posted: Jul 2, 2009 1:25 AM ]

This is a good topic.

I'm sure I have some Rhodes and Bass cards just sitting around from when I was a kid that my nephew in Japan would like to have.

Let's get some more serious answers going on this. Maybe some guys that were solid over there in the '80s and '90s, not necessarily league leaders.

Thanks.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: gotigersredsox | Posted: Jul 2, 2009 9:28 PM ]

Charley Manuel had some good years here and could make the list.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: Bill | Posted: Jul 5, 2009 10:05 PM ]

I might add Greg "Boomer" Wells (triple crown, MVP, etc.) from the Bass/Cromartie era of the '80s.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Jul 9, 2009 8:06 AM ]

How about Brad "The Animal" Lesley? He was an All-Star as a closer for the Hankyu Braves in the late 1980s, and was a real cult figure in Japan. There are no doubts that a lot of Japanese people over 30 who remember Brad Lesley, even if they aren't necessarily baseball fans.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: PLNara | Posted: Jul 18, 2009 3:26 PM | HT Fan ]

Animal was on mainstream TV for a while in Japan after his playing days, which doesn't hurt his popularity.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: Rob Fitts | Posted: Jul 28, 2009 8:23 PM ]

You guys are forgetting Wally Yonamine. The first American to star in Japan after WWII, 8 time All Star, MVP, Manager of the Year, and Hall of Famer.

Also Bozo Wakabayashi, HOF pitcher.

There are of course no MLB cards of these two.

rob
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: tigers2010 | Posted: Jul 29, 2009 10:45 AM ]

To the original poster, if you want to know more about the history of Japanese baseball, definitely read the biography of Wally Yonamine, as the previous poster--and author--just mentioned.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: kenny | Posted: Feb 3, 2010 4:08 AM ]

Cecil Fielder.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Kiyoshi | Posted: Feb 3, 2010 1:18 PM | HAN Fan ]

How about Chico Escuela?
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: zman | Posted: Feb 4, 2010 11:56 AM ]

Who can forget Kevin Mitchell? He was not here long, but he was a MVP in the bigs.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: guest | Posted: Feb 9, 2010 12:05 AM ]

Kevin Mitchell? I think the original poster wanted to know who performed the best in Japan. Kevin was a big star in MLB, but ask the folks down in Kyushu if he was one of the best here!
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: Brule Laker | Posted: Oct 23, 2012 4:01 AM ]

Pitcher Joe Stanka was one of the first Americans to star in Japan. After only one MLB victory with the White Sox in 1959, he went on to several successful seasons in Japan during the 1960s.
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Nov 27, 2012 4:30 PM ]

Diamond Jim Gentile (Kintetsu - 1969).
Re: Best American Players to Ever Play in Japan?
[ Author: Guest: Will | Posted: Jan 9, 2013 1:28 AM ]

[Old thread revival.]

Horner became a free agent in 1987, but Major League clubs were colluding to drive down salaries. Unable to find a Major League club interested in his services, Horner signed a one-year contract with the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese League. He hit 31 homers and had 73 RBIs for the team. He was given number 50 by the organization because that was the number of home runs they expected him to hit.
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