Tom O’Malley Signed Hanshin Tigers Card (1993 TOMY I.D.)
In six NPB seasons, Tom O’Malley hit over .300 six times (including leading the league once), was a Central League All-Star three times, won the All-Star game MVP, and won a Gold Glove at first base. He was MVP of both the 1995 Central League regular season and the 1995 Japan Series. He is one of the greatest and most beloved import players in NPB history.
O’Malley used a bat-control approach to shoot through the minor league ranks of the San Francisco Giants, earning a big league roster spot at age 21 in 1982 and then becoming the primary third baseman in 1983, when he had only 47 strikeouts against 52 walks. He bounced around after that, always performing well at AAA but never receiving enough playing time to get into a groove in the major leagues.
He finally became a regular after signing with the Hanshin Tigers for the 1991 season, and instantly become a fan-favorite of the Koshien faithful.
Four years in the black and gold made him a Tigers legend, but Tigers fans reluctantly had to say goodbye to him after the 1994 season, when he left for the Yakult Swallows. The Tigers apparently wanted more power from their first baseman, and O’Malley suddenly became a prodigious home run hitter, hitting 31 for the Swallows en route to earning Central League MVP. Even worse for the Tigers fans, O’Malley led the Swallows to the Japan Series title. He was now a Swallows legend too, and added to his legacy with another productive year in 1996.
O’Malley returned to the states and managed the Newark Bears before the Tigers asked him back to work with their hitters. He subsequently became a hitting coach and scout with the Tigers, much to the delight of Tigers fans who were happy to see him back with the franchise.