Who is this? Boston Red Sox Pitcher Junichi Tazawa. What is this? An autograph card from 2009 TriSTAR Obak. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Junichi Tazawa at the 2010 Pawtucket Red Sox Hot Stove Party. How much did it cost? I paid about a dollar for the card in 2009.
Why is this so special? Junichi Tazawa was a bit of a sensation in the Red Sox Minor League system in 2009. Before coming to America, Tazawa had only played in Japanese Industrial League, pitching for Nippon Oil, and made unprecedented request, at the age of 23, that he not be drafted in Japan, but instead become an international free agent. According to multiple sources, Tazawa turned down bigger contracts to have the opportunity to play for the Boston Red Sox.
Debuting with Double-A Portland, Tazawa exceeded all expectations, winning 9 of his 18 starts, striking out 88 batters to only 26 walks, and posting a 2.57 ERA. Those numbers were so impressive that he earned a spot on both the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Team and the 2009 Futures Game World Team. In fact, Tazawa was scheduled to start the Futures game, but ended-up being scratched after a rain-delay. Soon after, Tazawa earned a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket and then made his Major League Debut with Boston on August 7, 2009.
Unfortunately, Tazawa was forced to miss all of 2010 and the start of the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Luckily, after struggling to recover his form early in 2011, Tazawa climbed the organizational ladder again, rising from High-A Salem, to Double-A Portland, to Triple-A Pawtucket, and back to Boston, appearing in three big-league games late in the season.
Junichi has been a good signer since coming to the United States and is unique in his willingness to sign both his Japanese and American signatures. I really like that I have his 2009 TriSTAR Obak card signed in both American and Japanese.
I'm only putting autograph-related links in this blogroll. However, if you have a blog or a collector site not specifically about autographs, but with an autograph page or an "autograph" label on your blog posts, I'll put that link here.