Kenichi Nakata, most recently with the Hanshin Tigers, announced his retirement back at the end of September. He had been the Chunichi Dragons' second round pick in the 2004 draft out of Kitakyushu University and made the team's starting rotation as a rookie in 2005, the first rookie pitcher to make the Opening Day rotation since Kenshin Kawakami in 1998. He pitched pretty well that year, going 8-3 with a 3.63 ERA and received some Rookie Of The Year consideration although the award ultimately went to Norichika Aoki.
He posted his best season in 2007, going 14-8 with a 3.59 ERA and making the All Star team for the only time in his career. He topped the season off by starting Game Two of the Nippon Series against the Fighters, earning the victory after going eight innings and only giving up one run (on a solo home run from Fernando Seguignol).
He spent another six seasons with the Dragons, with injuries and ineffectiveness causing him to bounce back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen and the top team and farm team. He left the Dragons as a free agent after the 2013 season and signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, his hometown team. He pitched well in his first three or four seasons with Softbank although the team's abundance of pitchers made it difficult to get starts at times and he spent more time on the farm team than you'd probably expect. He ended up spending almost all of 2019 with the farm team, only making one appearance with the ichi-gun. After the season he was sent to the Hanshin Tigers in a "free trade" - meaning that the Hawks essentially gave him to the Tigers for no compensation.
He only made three appearances with the Tigers in 2020, going 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA. He pitched a little better on the farm that year, going 2-4 with a 3.50 ERA but his farm team ERA jumped to 5.81 this past season. He announced his retirement without making any appearances with the ichi-gun squad this year. He'll be the pitching coach for the Hawks ikusei team in 2022.
His first card was #36 in the 2005 BBM Rookie Edition set and his first BBM flagship appearance was card #278 in that year's 1st Version set. His first Calbee card was #118 in the 2005 Second Series, giving him a somewhat rare rookie year Calbee card. Here's a bunch of his cards:
|2005 BBM Rookie Edition #36|
|2005 BBM 1st Version #278|
|2006 BBM Cl Champion Dragons #08|
|2007 BBM All Stars #A41|
|2008 BBM Dragons #DM1|
|2020 BBM Nippon Series #S37|
|2015 Calbee #089|
|2018 BBM Hawks 80th Anniversary #75|
|2019 Epoch NPB #039|
|2021 BBM Tigers #T09|