There has been a steady influx of players from Japan who have had various degrees of success in Major League Baseball. One of them is Tsuyoshi Shinjo, who spent three years in the big leagues with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants. Shinjo made a name for himself in 2001 by becoming the first non-pitcher from Japan to play in the National League.
Although not a great hitter at the MLB level with at .245 average, 20 home runs and 100 RBI in 878 games, Tsuyoshi Shinjo was fantastic defensively, routinely displaying a cannon for an arm. He had a .982 fielding percentage and recorded 12 outfield assists. Shinjo did have a knack in his rookie season to come up with the big hit with 11 game-winning RBI.
Tsuyoshi Shinjo spent the majority of his career in Japan, playing for the Hanshin Tigers from 1991-2000 and the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters from 2004-2006. He is a career .254 average with 1309 hits, 205 home run and 716 RBI in Japan. Now, some 14-years later at the age of 48, Shinjo is attempting a comeback.
One might wonder why, considering he’s had a great deal of success outside of baseball. Much like Jim Palmer, Tsuyoshi Shinjo became a successful underwear model following and even came out with his own clothing line. In addition, he became recognized globally, even appearing with the likes of Paris Hilton. So, what can we make of this attempt to return to the Fighters? In a small sample size during a single-day in tryouts, Shinjo went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. He looks to be in fantastic shape and looks more than a decade younger than his 48 years.
Other athletes have attempted comebacks in their respective sports after time away. Tsuyoshi Shinjo simply doesn’t want to give up the sport he loves until he feels it’s the right time to do so. After all, he walked away from the game for the first time at the relatively young age of 34. If he can show he has something left in the tank, then he’ll make the Fighters and could add something to the team. Even if Tsuyoshi Shinjo plays for only a single season, it will be a great story. If he fails to make the team, he leaves a good message to never give up on your dreams and he can walk away back into his modeling career.