November 7, 1947 |
|1969 for the Hankyu Braves|
|Last professional appearance|
|1988 for the Hankyu Braves|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the Japanese|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
After a brief career at the company team of Matsushita, he was drafted seventh overall by the Hankyu Braves (currently the Orix Buffaloes) in 1968. In his second season, he stole 75 bases, setting the Japanese single-season record. In 1972 (Shōwa 47), he stole 106 bases, setting the all-world single-season modern-era record. He also led the Braves to the Japanese championship. Fukumoto was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) and became the first Japanese MVP who had also led the league in steals. In 1983, he stole his 939th career base, passing Lou Brock and setting the all-world career steals mark (later passed by Rickey Henderson in 1993). He also hit his 2000th career hit. He was contacted for a National Honor Award but declined.
After the 1988 season, the Braves were slated to become the Orix Blue Wave. At the last game of the year, manager Toshiharu Ueda delivered a farewell address at the post-game ceremony. Ueda made the mistake of saying, "We bid farewell to Yamada and Fukumoto (who will leave the team) ..." instead of "We bid farewell to Yamada but will have Fukumoto (for the new team) ...". Everyone was caught by surprise, including Fukumoto himself, since he had intended to play at least another year. Fukumoto shrugged to reporters and said, "Ueda said so, I'm retiring," and ended his career. Fukumoto felt no ill will towards Ueda and went on to coach for Orix in 1989 and 1990. From 1998 to 1999, he coached for the Hanshin Tigers. In 2002 (Heisei 14), Fukumoto was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.
Throughout his career Yutaka Fukumoto was the league's most aggressive lead-off man and the best defensive center fielder. Yutaka Fukumoto retired with 2543 hits, 208 home runs, 449 doubles, 115 triples, 884 runs batted in, 1065 stolen bases, .291 batting average, and 2401 games. He held the Japanese records in career doubles (later passed by Kazuyoshi Tatsunami), holds career triples, and career stolen bases. He also hit more lead-off home runs than anyone in Japanese history with 43.
- "デジタル版 日本人名大辞典+Plusの解説" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
- Fitts, Robert K. (2005). Remembering Japanese baseball: an oral history of the game. SIU Press. pp. xxix–xxxi.
- "Fukumoto blazed quite a trail on bases before Rickey came along". The Japan Times. January 17, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2010.