Great Tiger Moments #8 – Kanemoto Triumphantly Retires

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Date: October 9, 2012

This moment cannot be properly understood without first understanding the absolute mess this team was before Tomoaki Kanemoto‘s acquisition during the 2002 offseason. Just two seasons removed from the 1985 championship, the team finished… 6th, 6th, 5th, 6th, 6th, 2nd, 4th, 4th, 6th, 6th, 5th, 6th, 6th, 6th, 6th, 4th. Out of six teams. That’s a lot of failure. So when the recently deceased  Senichi Hoshino massively overhauled the team after his first season at the helm, his centerpiece move was getting this veteran slugger out of Hiroshima. It took a lot of phone calls, urgings, even threats.

But the season after Hoshino landed Kanemoto, the team won the Central League. And then again two years later. Over the course of his 10 seasons with the Tigers, the team finished: 1st, 4th, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 4th, 5th. In that final season, 2012, Kanemoto turned 44 years old. His legendary ironman innings streak had mercifully come to an end in 2010, but in the hearts of fans, he was still an immortal. And so on this, his final day as a Tigers player, Kanemoto pulled out a few final tricks:

After the game, as is tradition in Japan with great players, the team held a ceremony to honor “Aniki” – and this is what it looked like:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, our current manager is a legend well worthy of the awe in which his name is held. And this day will not be forgotten by the hardest core fans for years to come.

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.

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