The Meikyukai (日本プロ野球名球会 Nippon Puro Yakyū Meikyūkai?, The Golden Players Club) is one of the two Japanese baseball halls of fame (the other is Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame; Yakyu Dendo 野球殿堂). The Meikyukai is a company ltd. for public benefit.
It was founded on July 24, 1978, to honor players born during the Shōwa period (1926–1988). Players are automatically inducted if they reach a career total of 2,000 hits, 200 wins, or 250 saves (added in December 2003) in the Japanese professional leagues.
Record in Major League Baseball are also valid in counting the numbers; However, Meikyukai only takes records from the point where he started his NPB career(i.e.: Records before debut in NPB don't count). For example, Alex Ramírez(by then only non-Japanese inductee)'s 86 hits in MLB before his NPB career were excluded which made him ineligible until he recorded his 2,000 NPB hit on April 6, 2013.
Though other records such as home runs, stolen bases, and strikeouts are not officially included in the qualifications, Yutaka Fukumoto was specially inducted when he reached 800 career stolen bases (he would later mark 2,000 career hits).
Nationality is not officially regarded as a qualification, but since MLB records before starting a NPB career would not count, only one non-Japanese player so far has met the milestone.
Hiromitsu Ochiai reached 2,000 hits in 1995, but declined membership because Kaneda and other members had repeatedly criticized him during his career. Kihachi Enomoto has not declined membership, but has never participated in any of the club's meetings or events, and is not recognized as a member.
Inductees are awarded a special jacket, and participate in various baseball-related events during the off-season.
The founding members of the club limited membership to players born after 1926, partly because they only wanted members that had begun their career after the two league system of Japanese baseball was established (the Showa Era), but mostly because Kaneda did not want to include qualified members, such as Tetsuharu Kawakami, that were older than he was. According to current regulations, only players born between 1926 and 1988 can join, but the rules will probably be changed for younger players to be inducted in the near future.
The club was created by Masaichi Kaneda in 1978, who passed on leadership to the club to home run champion Sadaharu Oh after running it for more than 30 years. The Meikyukai mostly makes appearances in charity and volunteer events, and holds annual meetings and a golf tournament, which is often broadcast on television. All of the money raised from the golf tournament is donated to the Red Cross.
The founding members of the club were: Kaneda, Inao, Koyama, Keiji Suzuki, Yoneda, Etou, Oh, Takagi, Doi, Nagashima, Nomura, Harimoto, Hirose, Yamauchi, Kajimoto, Minagawa and Murayama. The most recent inductee is Motonobu Tanishige.
- Active players are indicated with an asterisk (*).
- Deceased players are indicated in plain italics.
- Lefton, Brad (July 7, 2012). "Where No Westerner in Japan Has Gone". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.
- Coskrey, Jason (April 9, 2013). "Ramirez possibly top foreign-born player ever in NPB". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on April 10, 2013.