OSAKA – Hanshin Tigers outfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto reached a new milestone in his career Sunday when he earned the unofficial title of world record holder for playing in consecutive games without missing an inning.
Kanemoto broke what is believed to be a major league record held by Cal Ripken Jr., extending his streak of playing every inning of every game to 904 regular-season games in Japanese baseball.
The 38-year-old achieved the feat in front of 33,438 fans at Osaka Dome. It came after he continued to take the field and stepped up to the plate even with a broken left hand during the 2004 season.
“I’m relieved that I didn’t have any accidents during the game. But to be honest, I haven’t really realized what I’ve achieved,” said Kanemoto, whose streak began on July 21, 1999 when he was with the Hiroshima Carp.
“I’d like to thank my parents and God. As a professional, it’s meaningless unless I keep appearing in games. If possible, I want to continue this streak for another three years or even five years.”
The Tigers celebrated his achievement with a 10-5 win over the Yokohama BayStars and a lavish ceremony followed.
A congratulatory message from Ripken flashed on an electronic board at the stadium and fellow veteran Hanshin players Akihiro Yano and Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi handed Kanemoto a bat gifted by the former Baltimore Oriole.
“Congratulations, keep playing,” said Ripken in a hand-written message on the bat. Hanshin club president Toshihiro Makita said later he will apply to put Kanemoto’s streak in the Guinness Book of World Records.