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Yamasaki to re-sign with Dragons for retirement ceremony

Kyodo

The Chunichi Dragons announced Tuesday that they will sign retired slugger Takeshi Yamasaki and will use Friday’s preseason game against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles as a farewell game.

Yamasaki, who retired with the Dragons last season, turned pro out of high school and finished his career with 403 home runs despite not getting regular playing time until he was 27. His home run total is 18th highest in Nippon Professional Baseball history.

His one-day contract will be a first in NPB.

“This really is the end of the end,” the 45-year-old said in a statement released by the Central League club. “I want to enjoy this one game along with the fans and celebrate retiring.”

Yamasaki, who was never a good fielder, failed to earn playing time with the big club as a youngster despite destroying minor league pitching for several years. In 1996, he won a job out of spring training and in his first full season, led the CL with 39 home runs.

He hit 185 homers for the Dragons before he was traded to Orix. After two seasons with the BlueWave, he was released and picked up by the newly created Eagles in 2005. Yamasaki played seven seasons in Sendai, hitting 191 homers for the Eagles before returning to Nagoya to play out his final two years with Chunichi.