Note: This page discusses 1980s, 1990s and 2000s NPB catcher Takeshi Nakamura. For the amateur outfielder of the same name, click here.
Takeshi Nakamura (中村 武志)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 187 lb.
- High School Hanazono High School
Nakamura was picked by the Chunichi Dragons in the 1st round of the 1984 draft. After a couple seasons in the minors, he hit .212/.246/.319 in 43 games as a backup to Takayoshi Nakao in 1987. His first hit in NPB came May 30 against the great Manabu Kitabeppu and his first homer was a day later off Yoshihisa Shiratake. He batted .236/.312/.360 in 1988, becoming the starter as Takao moved to the outfield. He made his first Central League All-Star team. He was 2 for 9 in the 1988 Japan Series, as Chunichi lost to the Seibu Lions.
Takeshi produced at a .270/.370/.364 clip with 55 walks in 1989. In 1990, the 23-year-old batted .250/.301/.367; he was an All-Star again in both '89 and '90. He set career highs in home runs (20), RBI (62) and OPS (a .270/.316/.489 batting line) in 1991 and made his 4th straight All-Star team. On July 19, he hit a pinch-hit grand slam, then delivered a sayonara homer in the 11th to end the game. He lost the Best Nine to Atsuya Furuta, the first catcher to win a batting title.
In 1992, Nakamura fell to .245/.314/.365 with six home runs and 31 RBI, a significant drop-off. He hit .218/.300/.379 with 18 home runs in 1993 and was chosen as an All-Star for the fifth time. In 1994, the Kyoto native batted .256/.339/.364, improving his OPS though his homer total was cut in half. He also drove in more runs (50 as opposed to 46 in 1993). Nakamura was at .256/.327/.369 in 1995 and .271/.343/.402 with 12 dingers in 1996. He was picked as an All-Star in '96.
Nakamura hit .232/.301/.371 in 1997, as Akihiro Yano was starting to see more action behind the plate. That year, Nakamura reached 100 career homers, taking Tetsuro Kawajiri deep on May 7. When Chunichi dealt away Yano, Nakamura hit .236/.321/.337 while playing practically every day in 1998. He made his 7th All-Star team. He fell to the Mendoza Line in 1999 with a .200/.275/.276 campaign. He was 5 for 17 and hit a game 5 homer in the 1999 Japan Series but the Dragons still lost out in five games to the Daiei Hawks.
The veteran hit .244/.302/.306 in 2000. He batted .265/.317/.318 in 2001, ending a 15-year run with the Dragons. He made his last All-Star team in 2001. As Chunichi signed Motonobu Tanishige in the off-season, Nakamura moved to the Yokohama BayStars to replace Tanishige as the starter there. He hit .201/.243/.283 in 2002. In 2003, he split the Yokohama catching role with Ryoji Aikawa and had his best performance in years, hitting .268/.306/.464 in 230 plate appearances. His 11 home runs marked his first time in double digits in homers in 7 years despite his fewest plate appearances in that span.
Nakamura faded to .198/.236/.267 in 111 plate appearances over 47 games in 2004, now backing up Aikawa. He joined the expansion Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2005 as the backup to Akihito Fujii and hit .180/.229/.216 to end his career.
Overall, he played 1,955 games in NPB. He hit 214 doubles and 137 home runs in 5,705 at-bats, with 499 runs and 604 RBI. He drew 544 walks and struck out 1,072 times. A typical catcher, he rarely ran (29 SB, 14 CS). His batting line was .242/.309/.355. Through 2010, he was 10th in NPB history with 112 intentional walks, between two much bigger hitters, Shinichi Eto and Masahiro Doi.
After his playing career ended, Nakamura was a minor league coach for Yokohama then for Chunichi.
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