|April 2, 1999 for the Yomiuri Giants|
|Runs batted in||516|
Tomohiro Nioka was the second draft pick of the Yomiuri Giants in 1999. He made his pro debut that year, playing in 126 games and hitting .289. The following season he played in 119 games, hit 10 home runs, and collected 32 runs batted in. Nioka played in only 86 games in 2001, and played in 112 in 2002. He hit 24 homers (which set a Giants record for his position) and compiled a respectable .281 average in the 2002 season. The Giants won the championship in '02.
Tomohiro had a career season in 2003. He played in 140 games, and hit .300, the first .300 season of his career. Nioka also recorded career highs in hits (172), home runs (29), stolen bases (14) and runs scored (88). Nioka played a large part in keeping the Giants out of the cellar that year by hitting many home runs that helped snap losing skids, including a home run on September 18 that helped the Giants win, 5 to 3, and end a 9-game losing streak. The Giants tied for 3rd place in 2003.
In 2004, Tomohiro appeared in only 91 games, but still managed to collect 88 hits. He had a strong comeback year in 2005, hitting 16 dingers and driving in 58 runs. Nioka hit .301 in 2005, a new career high. In 2006, he reached the 20-home run mark for the third time by sending 25 over the fence.
It was rumored over the 2007 MLB offseason that Nioka, a free agent after the '07 season, was interested in playing in the big leagues. He was quoted as saying "I'd most definitely consider playing in the Major Leagues" in 2003. It was reported that possible destinations for Nioka might be the Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, San Francisco Giants, or St. Louis Cardinals.
Love hotel scandal
In July 2008, the Japanese tabloid weekly Josei Seven reported, with pictures, that Nioka, who is married, had gone to a love hotel with TV announcer Mona Yamamoto. The two met by chance at a gay bar in Shinjuku ni-chōme, Tokyo and, according to the newspaper, traveled to the hotel after drinking and conversing for several hours. The incident received widespread press attention in Japan.
- Brasor, Phillip, "All this fuss over just a little drink at a . . . love hotel", Japan Times, July 20, 2008.
- Nippon Professional Baseball career statistics from Japanesebaseball.com
- 2003 in the Central League
- Baseball Guru.com
- MLB Trade Rumors