Takeshi Hidaka (日高 剛)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 194 lb.
- High School Kyushu Kokusaidai Fuzoku High School
Takeshi Hidaka was a five-time All-Star catcher in his Nippon Pro Baseball career.
Hidaka was taken by the Orix BlueWave in the third round of the 1995 draft but he did not appear in NPB for a couple years. In his debut for the club, he pinch-hit for Makoto Takada. He got his first hit off Satoru Komiyama and his first homer was off Tomohiro Kuroki. He hit .228/.276/.317 as a rookie in 1998 while splitting the catching primarily with Takashi Miwa; his playing time was helped by Miwa's suspension for a tax evasion scandal. In 1999, he again split catching with Miwa and batted .184/.233/.272.
The Fukuoka native's batting line was .203/.304/.309 in 2000 but he fielded .997. He still made his first Pacific League All-Star team. In 2000 NPB All-Star Game 1, he pinch-ran for Nobuhiko Matsunaka in the 9th inning of a 5-4 loss to the Central League. Hidaka was not a usual pinch-running option - he had one steal in two tries that year and 11 on his career. In Game 2, he started at catcher and was retired by Keiichi Yabu and Melvin Bunch in a 12-4 loss; Toshihiro Noguchi replaced him. He did not play in Game 3, another loss.
In 2001, Hidaka hit .247/.295/.367, a big improvement. He made another All-Star team but got into only one of the three games; in the 2001 NPB All-Star Game 3, he replaced Kenji Johjima late in the contest, a 4-0 loss to the CL. During 2002, he batted .193/.264/.354 with 12 HR and fielded .999. He did not win the Gold Glove, which went to Johjima. In the 2002 NPB All-Star Games, he pinch-hit for Tsutomu Itoh in game 1 and was retired by Daisuke Miura. Yuji Yoshioka batted for Hidaka the next time around and the PL lost 4-1. In Game 2, a 4-2 win, he replaced Tetsuya Matoyama at catcher and was in turn replaced by Itoh; he did not get an at-bat.
Hidaka produced at a .268/.310/.408 clip in 2003; despite the offensive improvement, he missed the All-Star team this time. He had one of his top averages and his best OBP in 2004 (.275/.334/.389). He tied Koichi Oshima for 5th in the PL with 16 sacrifice hits. In 2005, he slumped to .217/.281/.296 while Orix merged with the Kintetsu Buffaloes to become the Orix Buffaloes; the merged team had opted to keep Hidaka over Akihito Fujii. His 19 sacrifice hits were third in the league behind Toru Hosokawa and Munenori Kawasaki.
He threw out 40.6% of attempted base thieves in 2006 while batting .240/.311/.286 for the Buffaloes. In 2006 NPB All-Star Game number 2, he replaced Tomoya Satozaki at catcher and went 0 for 3 in a 7-4 loss to the CL. He hit .202/.235/.320 in 2007, fielding .998.
He had a career season in 2008, with highs in runs (44), RBI (47), doubles (27), homers (13), slugging and OPS (.269/.325/.432). He tied Matsunaka for 9th in the PL with 8 HBP, tied for 9th with 11 double play grounders and tied Naoto Inada and Takahito Kudo for 8th with 18 sacrifice hits. He made his final All-Star team. In 2008 NPB All-Star Game 1, he started at catcher and went 2 for 3 in a 5-4 win over the CL; Hosokawa replaced him later in the game. He tied G.G. Sato for the team lead in hits. In Game 2, he replaced Hosokawa and clubbed a two-run homer off Marc Kroon in the 8th but it was too little, too late in a 11-6 loss.
In 2009, Hidaka hit .254/.291/.356 despite missing six weeks with hamstring problems, followed by .279/.335/.412 in 2010. While his offensive production was up and he fielded .996 both years, he was losing time to Fumihiro Suzuki. By 2011, Suzuki was the starter and Hidaka was seeing little action, going 3 for 44 with a double and five walks in 26 games. He was Orix's #4 catcher in 2012, when he batted .239/.256/.325.
Leaving Orix after all those years, he signed with the Hanshin Tigers as a free agent. He hit .289/.311/.371 for a career-best average, albeit in 44 games, backing up Fujii, in 2013. He became the 179th player in NPB history to appear in 1,500 games. He played two games and did not bat in 2014, 5th on the Hanshin depth chart. He retired at year's end and became a scout for the Tigers.
Overall, Hidaka hit .237/.292/.350 with 195 doubles, 79 homers, 367 runs and 434 RBI in 1,517 games. He fielded .994, threw out 31% of attempted base-stealers and had 37 passed balls. Through 2011, he was tied for 71st in NPB history with 144 sacrifice hits (even with Toshizo Sakamoto).