Sunday, May 5, 2013

Norihiro Nakamura

It's probably not getting the press it deserves today given the Matsui/Nagashima event but another piece of baseball history occurred today - Norihiro Nakamura of the Yokohama DeNA Baystars notched his 2000th hit.  Nakamura became the 43rd player (and fifth in the last two years) to reach this milestone.  (Technically he reached it earlier last week if you count the five hits he got as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005.)

Nakamura was drafted in the fourth round of the 1992 draft by the Kintetsu Buffaloes (a round which also included Ichiro Suzuki and Tomoaki Kanemoto).  He became a regular with them in 1994.  His BBM rookie card is #376 from the 1995 set.  His Calbee rookie card is also from the 1995 set - #70.

1995 BBM #376

Following the 2002 season, Nakamura came to terms with the New York Mets but ended up backing out of the deal after the news was released before he had a chance to tell the Buffaloes himself.  He remained with Kintetsu until the team merged with Orix following the 2004 season.

2001 Upper Deck 124

Unhappy about the merger, Nakamura left Japan to play a season in the US for the Dodgers (spending most of the season at the Dodger's AAA team in Las Vegas).  He returned to Japan for the 2006 season, "returning" to the now Orix Buffaloes at the request of manager Akira Ohgi (who was his first manager with Kintetsu in 1992).  Tragically, however, Ohgi passed away before the season began.

2006 BBM 1st Version #127

Nakamura left Orix following the 2006 season and joined Chunichi for 2007 - late enough that he doesn't appear in BBM's 1st Version set that season.  He had a very successful season for the Dragons, one that culminated in his being named MVP in the Nippon Series.

2007 BBM "The Climax" Dragons #D28

2007 BBM Nippon Series #S59

After two seasons in Nagoya, Nakamura went north to Sendai, signing a deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

2009 BBM Rookie Edition #124

Nakamura only spent two seasons with the Eagles.  For the 2011 season, he headed for Yokohama.  I'm not positive, but I think he's joined the Baystars late in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons as he does not have a card in the 1st Version set for either year (although he does this year).

2012 BBM 2nd Version #670

Nakamura also played for the Japanese Olympic team in both 2000 and 2004.  He appears in Calbee's 2001 subset featuring the 2000 Olympic team:

2001 Calbee Japan National Team #J-04

I cribbed some of the information for this post from Baseball Reference's Bullpen's article on Nakamura.

1 comment:

JasonP said...

There is a great YouTube video showing he and Tuffy Rhodes swatting most of their combined 101 home runs during the 2001 season. These last few seasons of his career is really one of hanging on to hit some big milestones. He is a shadow of his former self, but he will likely get his 400th HR this year, too if he stays healthy.