NAGOYA – Chunichi Dragons player-manager Motonobu Tanishige appeared in his 3,018th career game on Tuesday, setting a Nippon Professional Baseball record.
The 44-year-old catcher started Chunichi’s Central League game against the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome. He entered the day tied with Hall of Fame catcher Katsuya Nomura, who spent several seasons as the nominal player-manager of the Pacific League’s Nankai Hawks.
Tanishige had two hits in the game, but couldn’t keep the last-placed Dragons from dropping their fifth straight, a 6-4 setback to Hanshin.
Asked his next goal, Tanishige said, “Winning tomorrow. If I’m playing, I want to contribute with all my strength.
Better known in recent years for his pitch calling and defense than his hitting, Tanishige cut down a runner trying to steal in the eighth inning.
“I’m still capable of doing things like that,” he said.
Tanishige was the No. 1 draft choice of Yokohama’s Taiyo Whales (currently the Yokohama BayStars) in 1988 out of high school and was a key part of the BayStars’ Japan Series championship in 1998. He moved to the Dragons as a free agent prior to the 2002 season.
Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has played in more top-flight games than any other Japanese ballplayer, having played in 3,249 games between Japan and the majors. When Ichiro played in his 3,017th game last year, he said, “For me, it doesn’t mean anything.”