Sunday, October 7, 2012

Shingo Takatsu

Former Swallows relief pitcher Shingo Takatsu retired a couple of weeks back.  Most recently, Takatsu had been player-manager for the Niigata Albirex of the independent Baseball Challenge (BC) league.

Takatsu had attended Asia University in the late 1980's before being selected by Yakult in the third round of the 1991 draft (which was held in fall of 1990).  His BBM rookie card is #387 in the 1991 BBM set.  His first Calbee card was not until the 1994 set (#99).

2011 BBM Tohto 80th Memorial #16

1991 BBM #387
Takatsu became the Swallows closer in 1993, a role that he pretty much kept for the next 11 seasons (with the exception of much of the 1997 and 1998 seasons).  He recorded 260 saves through the 2003 season, passing Kazuhiro Sasaki for the most career saves in Japan.  Here's a 2002 Calbee "Be Excited" card commemorating his reaching 200 career saves:

2002 Calbee EX-3
Following the 2003 season, he came to the major leagues, signing a deal with the White Sox.  He spent the next two years in the US, pitching quite well for Chicago in 2004 but not so well in 2005.   The White Sox ended up releasing him at the beginning of August and he was picked up by the Mets for the remainder of the season.  He then returned to Japan for the 2006 and 2007 season, coming back to the Swallows and extending his save record to 286 (which has since been passed by Hitoki Iwase of the Dragons).

2006 BBM 1st Version #326
In 2008, Takatsu attempted to return to the US by signing a deal with the Cubs.  He was released in spring training, however, and ended up signing with the Woori Heroes in Korea.  He signed with the San Francisco Giants organization in 2009, making 14 appearances with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. In 2010, he joined the Sinon Bulls of the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

2011 CPBL Player Of The Year #032
By recording a save with the Bulls, Takatsu became the first pitcher to ever record saves in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the US.

I'm not positive, but I think he spent both 2011 and 2012 with the Niigata Albirex.  He was only player-manager for the 2012 season.  I don't know if he intends to continue as manager next season.

Takatsu made the All Star game six times in his 15 years in Japan - 1994, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2007, his final year with the Swallows.

00 BBM All Stars #A21
He appeared in four Nippon Series (1993, 1995, 1997 and 2001), winning all four with the Swallows.  He earned the nickname "Mr. Zero" by appearing in 11 Nippon Series games (a total of 16 2/3 innings) without giving up a run.

97 BBM Nippon Series #S9

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