Long time Lions pitcher Fumiya Nishiguchi announced his retirement towards the end of the season.
The Lions drafted him in the third round of the 1994 draft out of Rissho University. He was the first player from Rissho to go professional.
|2011 BBM Tohto 80th Memorial #90|
What I didn't know until I started researching this post is that the Lions sent Nishiguchi to the Sioux City Explorers of the Northern League for six games during 1995 season to learn how to throw a change-up. He returned to Japan and made his ichi-gun debut in mid-August of that season.
His rookie card was #526 in the 1995 BBM set (which I don't have). (As far as I can tell, he did not have a card in the 1995 Sioux City team set.)
Nishiguchi spent much of the next 17 seasons as the work horse of the Lions pitching staff, starting at least 20 games in all but four of those years. His best season was 1997, when he went 15-5 with 192 strikeouts to win both the Sawamura Award and the Pacific League MVP. He lead the league in victories and strikeouts in 1997 and 1998 and was named to the Best Nine team both of those seasons. He won a Golden Glove Award in 1997, 1998 and 2002. He made the All Star team in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2005.
Twice he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning with two outs before giving up a hit. He also had a perfect game through nine against the Eagles in 2005 but since the Lions had failed to score, the game went into extra innings. The first batter in the tenth for the Eagles, Yoshinori Okihara, got a single to break up the perfect-o.
He made seven starts over five Nippon Series (1997-98, 2002, 2004 & 2008), going 0-5. His team was victorious in two of those five Series (2004, 2008).
He mentioned in his retirement press conference that his biggest regrets as a player was not completing a no-hitter and not winning a Nippon Series game.
|1996 Takara Lions #13|
|1998 BBM #30|
|1999 BBM All Stars #A47|
|2002 Konami Prime Nine #PN02T1-130|
|2008 Calbee #180|
|2008 BBM Nippon Series #S04|
|2012 Epoch "Trading Card Plate" #SL-06|
|2015 Lions Fanclub #13|
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