Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Happy Kazuo Uzuki Day!!!

Let me just say that I love this card.

It drives a certain Hobby blogger (now Twitter fiend) to the brink of insanity. But I think it's great.

Long story short, on the heels of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Topps decided to add a card of the next great Japanese pitching phenom. This kid named Kazuo Uzuki. The bio on the back of the card talks of a pitching prodigy who was so close to making that first Japanese team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, but was prohibited by age. Here's the full bio:

Already being called "The Uzi" by some for his 104 MPH fastball, kaz will be the first japan-based high-schooler to jump straight to professional baseball in America when he graduates in 2009. "He is, hands down, the best pitching prospect I've seen in 30 years," said one MLB scout. And one unnamed American League GM said, "The contract this kid is going to get will be astronomical." At age fourteen, he was the youngest player invited to the WBC squad trials and - though he was cut on the last day - he made a lasting impression with his 17 Ks in 7 innings of work during intrasquad matches.

What a prospect. No wonder Topps added his card to packs of their 2008 Topps Series 1 product.

But wait.

People started to guess that something was amiss.

There was no information anywhere on a Kazuo Uzuki. Nothing online about this wunderkid. And for all of the accolades, you'd think someone would have heard of him.

And that's when things started to unravel.

On April 1, 2008, Topps finally announced that this was an April Fool's joke, less than two months after the product went live. And go figure. Kazuo Uzuki means "first son of April" (if Wikipedia is to be believed).

It turns out that the Japanese pitching phenom was really a New York University law student named Sensen Lin (who, oh yeah, is Chinese). When he was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, he said he had summered with Ropes & Gray LLC. I went to check, and according to his LinkedIn profile, he's been with the firm for six years now (and no, I'm not going to link his profile...are you kidding? Although, I may ask if I can add him as a connection...)

So let's raise a glass to Mr. Lin, who so graciously is now a part of cardboard lore.

Happy April Fools' Day everybody!!!

Keep the pranks to a minimum, will you?


JayBee Anama

1 comment:

Ryan G said...

Depending on the kanji used, Kazuo Uzuki could mean "first son of April".

Uzuki can be "卯月" which means April, sort of. It's the traditional term that doesn't get used anymore, and refers to a flower.

And Kazuo can mean "first son" with several kanji: 一雄, 一夫, 一男. It's a relatively common given name.

一 means one or first. 雄 means male, 夫 means husband, and 男 means man. So it does make sense.

I wrote about this card at my school for this month's article, and I picked one up for myself a year or two ago too. I'm glad Topps enjoys tossing in fun "gimmicks" like this sometimes.