The very first replica baseball jersey I ever owned was one I purchased as a teenager back in the mid-2000's.
It was this Yokohama BayStars visitor's jersey. I'm not sure where exactly I got this but I'm 100% sure it wasn't in Yokohama, otherwise I probably would've gotten a proper home jersey.
The player is former BayStars (and current SoftBank Hawks) outfielder Seiichi Uchikawa.
Uchikawa was drafted by the Yokohama BayStars in the first round of the 2000 NPB Player Draft. At the time of the draft Uchikawa was dealing with an injury, but still went in the first round with the BayStars under the condition that the team pay for his medical expenses.
Uchikawa was called up to the big league BayStars in 2001 and would go on to be a very consistent hitter at the bottom of the lineup (although he gradually went up in the lineup with time). Uchikawa really came into his own in 2008 when he won the Central League batting title, he's been one of the game's most notable superstars ever since.
Having one of the biggest jaws in baseball sure helps keep him on the map too. In fact, when he goes back to the dugout after contributing in some capacity, instead of fist bumping everybody, he bumps everybody's fist with his jaw.
Uchikawa's BayStars tenure ended after the 2010 season, and since 2011 Uchikawa has played for the SoftBank Hawks. According to some BayStars fans I know, he's viewed as a traitor who left to play for a team that dished out more money. Which is of course why I call Uchikawa the Hero of Yokohama.
A lot of you are probably more familiar with Uchikawa as a member of Team Japan in the 2009 and 2013 WBC tournaments. He had some key moments like this. And made some nice plays in the OF during Team Japan's 2009 run.
Uchikawa probably won't be returning to Yokohama anytime soon, but I'm pretty glad to own a jersey of one of NPB's most notable superstars. Who cares if he's not on the team anymore, if Yankees fans can wear Cano jerseys to Yankee Stadium then I can wear Uchikawa jerseys to Yokohama Stadium. Although TBH I'd prefer to pick up a new Dragons replica jersey if I get the opportunity.
Anyway, that was my very first replica baseball jersey ever. As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).