|Chunichi Dragons – No. 74|
|Born: 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|
|NPB statistics |
(through 2014 season)
|Runs batted in||1338|
|Career highlights and awards|
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
In 2006, Nakamura re-signed with the Orix Buffaloes, playing primarily as a designated hitter. He finished 2006 with .232 average, 12 homers and 45 RBI.
2007–2008: Chunichi Dragons
Nakamura 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
Nakamura 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.
Nakamura signed a one-year contract with the Yokohama BayStars on May 24, 2011, and was released on October 3, 2014. He officially retired in February 2015.
Nakamura served as a coach at Hamamatsu Kaiseikan High School from 2017 to 2021. On November 2, 2021, Nakamura was hired by the Chunichi Dragons to serve as the team's hitting coach for the 2022 season.
- ^ 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).
- ^ "中日・中村紀洋「まさか」の打撃コーチ就任「監督から石川君を育ててほしいと」（日本テレビ系（NNN））".
- Nippon Professional Baseball career statistics from JapaneseBaseball.com
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball Reference, or Baseball Reference (Minors)
- 1973 births
- Baseball players at the 2000 Summer Olympics
- Baseball players at the 2004 Summer Olympics
- Chunichi Dragons players
- Japanese expatriate baseball players in the United States
- Kintetsu Buffaloes players
- Las Vegas 51s players
- Living people
- Los Angeles Dodgers players
- Major League Baseball players from Japan
- Major League Baseball third basemen
- Medalists at the 2004 Summer Olympics
- Nippon Professional Baseball first basemen
- Nippon Professional Baseball third basemen
- Olympic medalists in baseball
- Olympic bronze medalists for Japan
- Olympic baseball players of Japan
- Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes players
- Orix Buffaloes players
- Baseball people from Osaka
- Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles players
- Yokohama BayStars players
- Yokohama DeNA BayStars players