Shigeru Takada (Heigiwa no Majutsushi/Fenceside Magician)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 154 lb.
Shigeru Takada has had a long and successful career in Japanese baseball. He was a 7-time Best Nine pick in college, a 8-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year and four-time Best Nine in Nippon Pro Baseball, a Japan Series MVP and later coached, was an announcer, was a general manager and a manager. In 2008, Takada will return to the managerial role, taking over the reigns of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
Takada played on a Koshien Tournament winner in high school. In the spring of 1965, he won the batting title in the Tokyo Big Six University League. He was a 7-time Best Nine pick while at Meiji University. His 127 hits were a league record for almost 50 years, before Shun Takayama broke it. He was a number-one draft pick in 1967, taken by the Yomiuri Giants.
Takada hit .301/.391/.486 as a rookie in 1968 with 9 triples and 23 stolen bases in 30 attempts. He made the Central League All-Star team, led the league in triples and times hit by pitch (15) and won Rookie of the Year honors. The young outfielder would have finished 5th in the CL in average had he qualified. He hit .385/.448/.577 with 8 runs in 6 games in the 1968 Japan Series, winning MVP honors.
Takada batted .294/.362/.435 in 1969 and again was plunked a league-high 15 times. He joined Dave Roberts and Kazuyoshi Yamamoto in the CL outfield Best Nine selections. He hit .375/.407/.625 during the 1969 Japan Series but failed to repeat as MVP when Shigeo Nagashima was selected.
Takada produced at a .262/.323/.366 clip in 1970, scored 85 runs and stole 24 bases in 29 tries. He again was a Best Nine pick. In the 1970 Japan Series, Takada hit .227/.261/.364. In 1971, Takada batted .281/.357/.449 with a career-high 38 stolen bases in 46 attempts. He led the league in steals and doubles (26) and was honored as an All-Star and Best Nine. He was 2 for 13 with a walk and a steal in Yomiuri's 1971 Japan Series win.
Takada hit a career-high 19 homers in 1972 and batted .281/.357/.449. He missed a 20-20 campaign by one homer and one steal. He made his final Best Nine, won his first Diamond Glove Award and made the All-Star team. He only hit .200/.273/.200 in the 1972 Japan Series as Yomiuri claimed another crown.
In 1973, the outfielder produced at a .251/.309/.416 clip and stole successfully in 18 of 19 tries. He made the All-Star team and won the Diamond Glove again. In the 1973 Japan Series, he helped Yomiuri to its 7th straight title since he had joined by batting .357/.550/.500 with 7 runs in five games; he almost outscored the Nankai Hawks (11 runs) by himself in the Series.
Takada hit .252/.325/.402 in 1974 and failed to reach double-digit steals for the first time in his career. For the first time, he failed to make the All-Star team, though he did win a Diamond Glove. In 1975, the veteran batted .235/.320/.355 yet again was an All-Star. He won his fifth straight Diamond Glove. In 1976, the 31-year-old hit .305/.353/.460, stole 17 bases in 19 tries and scored 84 runs. He made his last All-Star team and won his sixth Diamond Glove. He was 10th in the Central League in average. During the 1976 Japan Series, his batting line was .208/.321/.333 as Yomiuri lost.
In 1977, Takada hit .296/.351/.459 with 17 homers and a career-high 65 RBI. He won his last Diamond Glove. He batted .300/.333/.350 in his final Japan Series appearance. During the 1978 campaign, Takada batted .278/.350/.375 and he followed that with a .275/.329/.396 line in declining time in 1979. A bit player by 1980, Takada appeared in 81 games and had 209 plate appearances; he hit .189/.278/.274 only and retired.
Takada's career batting line in NPB was .273/.339/.414. He stole 200 bases in 271 attempts and had 139 homers and 838 runs scored in 1,512 games. As of 2006, he ranked 13th in Japan Series games played (44), seventh in runs scored (33), 13th in hits (46), ninth in doubles (7), 14th in total bases (66), and 14th in walks (15).
Takada became manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1985 and they finished fifth in the Pacific League at 53-65-12. In 1986, his team improved a bit to 57-65-8. By 1987, they were over .500 with a 63-60-7 record and third-place finish. In 1988, the Fighters again were third at 62-65-3. Overall, his Fighters were 235-255-30.
Takada returned to managerial work again in 2008, replacing Atsuya Furuta at the helm of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. The team finished 5th that year at 66-74-4, then improved to third at 71-72-2 in 2009. After a 13-32 start in 2010, he stepped down in favor of coach Junji Ogawa.