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August 21, 1968 |
|MLB: August 7, 1990, for the Houston Astros|
|NPB: March 30, 1996, for the Kintetsu Buffaloes|
|MLB: June, 8, 1995, for the Boston Red Sox|
|NPB: November, 5, 2009, for the Orix Buffaloes|
|Runs batted in||44|
|Runs batted in||1269|
|Career highlights and awards|
Karl Derrick "Tuffy" Rhodes (born August 21, 1968) is a retired American professional baseball player. He played six years in Major League Baseball in the US, and thirteen years in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan. Rhodes is the all-time NPB home run leader among foreign-born players, and he is tied for 11th overall with 464 home runs in Japan. He hit 55 home runs in 2001, equaling the NPB single-season mark set by Sadaharu Oh in 1964.
In 1993, he hit an extra-inning home run to win the American Association championship for the Iowa Cubs. His only season of more than 250 at bats came with the 1994 Cubs. In that season, Rhodes became the first National League player to hit three home runs on opening day when he connected off Dwight Gooden at Wrigley Field.
In the 2001 season, he hit his 55th homer to tie Sadaharu Oh's Japanese League single season home run record, set in 1964. For the rest of the season, opposing pitchers intentionally walked Rhodes to prevent him from breaking Oh's record. (The current record is 60, set by Wladimir Balentien in 2013.) The following year, Alex Cabrera tied the record. Over 8 seasons with the Buffaloes, Rhodes hit 288 home runs for the team.
After Kintetsu refused to sign him to a multi-year contract, Rhodes signed a two-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Central League in 2004. A successful first year was followed by a difficult second year. He left the team halfway through the 2005 season due to injury, and was released in the off-season.
In 2006, he tried to return to the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds but was released by the team in spring training. He shortly thereafter retired from baseball.
After spending the rest of 2006 with his family, however, he returned to Japan in 2007, signing a one-year contract with the Orix Buffaloes. Although Rhodes is not Japanese, his long career in NPB earned him free agency, in which he was treated as a "Japanese Player" and was not bound to the restrictions of foreign players. Only three other non-Japanese players (Tai-Yuan Kuo, Alex Ramírez, and Alex Cabrera) have achieved such a classification in NPB history.
Rhodes began the 2007 season with a bang by hitting a home run in his first game, and connecting for two more in the next game on two consecutive at bats. According to manager Terry Collins, Rhodes still had an 'explosive' bat. While the Buffaloes struggled to a last-place finish in 2007, and also not having any protection to speak of in the lineup, Rhodes' comeback was a spectacular one, batting .291 and hitting 42 home runs to go with 96 runs batted in.
The next season, teamed with fellow gaijin slugger Alex Cabrera, Rhodes hit 40 home runs and drove in 118 runs despite his average dropping to .277. Combined, Cabrera and Rhodes, who earned the nickname "Caburo" late in the season, slammed 76 home runs and drove in 222 runs. Rhodes' 118 RBI also led the league as the Buffaloes made an improbable run to the playoffs, finishing second in the Pacific League and making their first playoff appearance since their 1996 Japan Series victory. However, the success did not last as the Buffaloes were swept in the short first-round of the Pacific League Climax Series by Yu Darvish and the more experienced Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. Rhodes played for one more season with Orix before retiring for good at the end of the 2009 season.