NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. – Kenji Johjima, Japan’s first Major League Baseball catcher, played his final game on Saturday, starting behind the plate in the Western League game between Hanshin against Orix. The 36-year-old had announced his retirement the day before.
Suffering for two years with knee and shoulder injuries, it was his first game at catcher since the Tigers’ Central League game June 5, 2011. In the bottom of the first, Johjima singled in a run with a hit up the middle at the Tigers minor league park, Naruohama Stadium.
After being removed from the game, Johjima’s son presented him with a bouquet of flowers, before his teammates honored the 18-year pro by tossing him in the air in a traditional “doage (victory toss) ceremony.
“As a baseball player, I was able to train and play without any regrets,” Johjima said. “I’ll proudly take off this uniform.”