Masayoshi Higashida (東田 正義)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 193 lb.
- High School Gose Kogyo High School
Outfielder Masayoshi Higashida was a two-time All-Star in his career in Nippon Pro Baseball.
He played for Mie Kotsu in the industrial leagues after high school. The Nishitetsu Lions took him in the second round of the 1967 NPB draft. He hit .194/.280/.388 as a rookie in 1968. He made his debut as a pinch-runner for Koshiro Ito. His first homer came off Kiyoshi Onosaka. He made big strides in 1969 and batted .253/.321/.490 with 17 HR in 290 plate appearances. As a starter in 1970, he hit .233/.294/.367 with 13 homers.
In 1971, the 25-year-old's batting line was .284/.340/.480 with a team-high 23 home runs (3 homers shy of Isao Harimoto, 10th in the Pacific League). He made the Pacific League All-Star team. In 1971 NPB All-Star Game 1, he hit 6th and started in right field. He fanned against Yutaka Enatsu as one of 9 straight strikeouts for a piece of NPB All-Star Game history. He finished the day 0 for 3 and took all three outfield spots during the 5-0 loss; the loss was also historic in that the Central League no-hit the Pacific League. In Game 2, he pinch-hit for Masanori Murakami and was retired by Hisatoshi Ito in a 4-0 win. In game 3, he replaced Masahiro Doi in right late in a 3-2 win, during a double switch. In his lone at-bat, he struck out against Enatsu.
He batted .273/.346/.403 in 1972 and tied for fourth in the PL with six sacrifice flies (two shy of Katsuya Nomura). He replaced Harimoto in left late in 1972 NPB All-Star Game 1, a 5-2 PL win. In Game 2, he pinch-hit for Hisashi Yamada in the 4th, drew a walk from Tsuneo Horiuchi and scored in a 4-0 win. He started in left in Game 3, a 1-0 loss, and went 2 for 3 before Yutaka Fukumoto pinch-ran for him; Jinten Haku was the only other PL player with multiple hits.
The Lions became the Taiheiyo Club Lions in 1973 and the Nara native hit .261/.326/.429 with 16 home runs. He slumped to .185/.289/.337 and a part-time role in 1974. He was then traded to the Nippon Ham Fighters for Haku in what would be a better move for the Lions; he hit .251/.330/.398 for the Fighters in 1975. The PL introduced the designated hitter that year and he was one of the first DHs used (the first?). In August, he took Osamu Higashio deep for his 100th homer, the 85th NPB player to that mark.
He was then traded again, this time to the Hanshin Tigers for Murakami and Kazuaki Goto. He hit .247/.305/.398 for the Tigers in 1976 and .273/.321/.481 with 9 homers in 57 games in 1977 but he ended his career due to back pain and conflict with manager Yoshio Yoshida. He had batted .252/.318/.419 with 123 homers in 953 NPB games.
He later worked in insurance before his death from cancer.