Nakamura while playing with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.
July 24, 1973 |
|NPB: June 12, 1992, for the Kintetsu Buffaloes|
|MLB: April 10, 2005, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|October, 2014, for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars|
(through 2014 season)
|Runs batted in||1338|
|Olympic medal record|
|Athens 2004||Team Competition|
Norihiro Nakamura (中村 紀洋 Nakamura Norihiko?, born July 24, 1973 in Osaka, Japan) is a Japanese former professional baseball third baseman. Nakamura spent almost all of his professional career in Japan with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes. Nakamura had a .266 career batting average, 404 home runs and 1338 RBI, and was an eight-time All-Star and four-time Golden Glove winner. Nakamura is one of only 16 players to have hit 400 or more home runs in NPB.
1992–2004: Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes
Drafted in 1992, Nakamura began to emerge as one of the leading power hitters in Nippon Professional Baseball in 1995. From 1998 to 2002, he had six consecutive 40-home run, 100-RBI seasons, setting career highs in batting average (.320) homers (46) and RBI (132) in 2001.
2002–2005: Dalliances with MLB
In 2002, he agreed to a two-year, $7 million contract with the New York Mets, but, after word leaked out before he could formally notify the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes management, Nakamura rejected the deal, saying that "I cannot trust such a team which leaked this information at its own Web site" (not knowing that each team's site is managed by Major League Baseball), and re-signed with Kintetsu over considerable controversy.
In 2003, he suffered a torn knee cartilage, and his offensive numbers began to decline. However, he hit well while participating in a spring training exchange program with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004.
In 2005, Nakamura walked away from a guaranteed $10 million two-year contract in Japan to sign a $500,000 non-guaranteed minor league deal with the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee to spring training. He made his Major League Baseball debut for the Dodgers on April 10, 2005. Highly touted from his playing days in Japan, he received the opportunity to win the Dodgers starting third base role after the Dodgers lost their starting third baseman, Adrián Beltré, to free agency in the offseason. However, Nakamura managed only a .128 batting average with no home runs and 3 runs batted in. He was optioned to the Las Vegas 51s, the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate, by mid-May. He would remain with the 51s the remainder of the season, after which the Dodgers granted him his release. Just after being released, he said "If Ichiro had started his career under [a] minor [league] contract like me, he couldn't be called up to [the] Major League[s]","This year is a kind of penalties for me", and "I don't know why I played in [the] minor league[s]".
2006: Orix Buffaloes
2007–2008: Chunichi Dragons
He signed a one-year deal for just 4,000,000 yen (about $34,000) as a trainee with the Chunichi Dragons on February 25, 2007. He signed a one-year deal for 6,000,000 yen (about $50,000) as a player on March 22, 2007. His annual income declined due to many troubles, but he got over the shock and was crowned the MVP of the 2007 Japan Series, the only NPB championship of his career.
2009–2010: Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
He originally anticipated becoming a first baseman in 2009 to fill the place of Tyrone Woods, who left the Dragons after the 2008 season. However, he declared himself a free agent and later signed with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles after the season ended.
- Ken Gurnick (February 3, 2005). "Nakamura inks minor league deal". MLB.com.
- Axisa, Mike. "Norihiro Nakamura and his glorious bat flip are retiring," CBSSports.com (Feb. 2, 2015).