On Friday night in front of a sold out crowd at Koshien Stadium, Hanshin Tigers infielder Takashi Toritani (36) became the 50th player in NPB history to reach the 2000 career hit plateau. His second inning double to right center scored a run, and Toritani was the tying run later in the inning. The team would go on to win 8-3 over the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, pushing their second place lead to 4.5 games.
— 虎テレ運用担当 (@toratele) September 8, 2017
Toritani was drafted in 2003 by the Tigers. More accurately, he chose to be drafted by the Tigers. Though he grew up a Saitama Seibu Lions fan, he said he wanted to play on the dirt infield of Koshien Stadium rather than a more fielder-friendly artificial turf such as the Lions have.
Through his 14 seasons with the Tigers, Toritani has been known for his spectacular and reliable fielding at shortstop (he has since moved over to third base), his incredible work ethic, and his refusal to take a day off. In fact, the veteran Tokyo native has the second longest ironman streak in NPB history at 1889 games (as of the end of play on Sunday) and counting.
Toritani has endured multiple injuries but has played right through them. Among the more gruesome ones was a broken nose caused by taking a fastball to the face earlier this season. He was apparently laughing with the media the next morning, saying it looked a lot worse than it felt. He pinch hit for a couple of games wearing a black “Batman” mask, but then removed it and quickly resumed fielding duties. You can see video of the beaning and mask in this video clip. While you’re at it, enjoy his fielding prowess back in his prime!
He received congratulatory flowers from the BayStars as his underclassman at Waseda, Hiroyasu Tanaka, came out onto the field and said, “You don’t want me to hug you, do you?” Toritani replied “Nope! No need!” Then teammate Kosuke Fukudome, who reached the milestone (NPB+MLB combined) last season, came out with a bouquet offering from the team. Upon reaching the bench after scoring, manager Tomoaki Kanemoto (who reached the mark as a Tiger back in 2008) said, “Go for 2500 next!”
On his 2000th hit, Toritani said from the hero’s podium that night, “I’m glad I was able to get it out of the way early, as now things will quiet down around me.” Ever the consummate team player, he also said he has just been putting up hit after hit in an effort to contribute to the team’s wins.
For the record, Toritani became the second player to get his first 2000 hits as a member of the Hanshin Tigers. Three other players who came to the Tigers from other teams achieved the feat in a Tigers uniform, as well. He was the first Tiger to get hit #2000 at Koshien Stadium. Here is a list of the others:
Kazuhiro Yamauchi (1967); Taira Fujita (1983); Kanemoto (2008); Fukudome (2016)
Check out this video of Toritani’s first career hit along with his 1960th through 2000th hits: