Fumitoshi Takano (鷹野 史寿)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 185 lb.
Fumitoshi Takano played over 400 games in Nippon Pro Baseball. He was frequently used as a platoon player and had a career OPS near 800.
Takano played for Nissan Motors in the industrial leagues after college. He was with the Japanese national team as they won the Silver Medal in the 1999 Asian Championship. In the 1999 Intercontinental Cup, Fumitoshi batted .180/.270/.303 with 6 RBI in 8 games and 10 strikeouts in 33 at-bats as Japan's starting center fielder. In the Bronze Medal game, he hit cleanup and went 1 for 5 with a run in a 6-0 win over Team USA.
The Kintetsu Buffaloes took him in the 6th round of the 1999 draft. He made his NPB debut on April 30, starting in left field for the Buffaloes. On May 3, he got his first hit, off Takashi Kawai. 23 days later, he hit a 3-run shot off Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi for his first homer. At one point that year, he reached base in 13 straight trips to the plate, one shy of the NPB record. For the 2000 season, he hit .296/.418/.468 in 225 plate appearances. He led the Pacific League with 12 times hit-by-pitch despite his part-time role. He also had a better OPS than the two Kintetsu outfielders with significantly more playing time - Tuffy Rhodes and Naoyuki Omura. Had he qualified, he would have tied Frank Bolick for 10th in the league in average.
In 2001, Takano batted a solid .306/.440/.509 as a backup between Rhodes, Omura and Koichi Isobe, though it was hard for him to buy time with Rhodes hitting a record 55 homers, Isobe hitting .316/.381/.508 with 42 doubles and 17 home runs and Omura adding 34 doubles and 16 home runs from center field. Both Isobe and Rhodes made the Best Nine. In the 2001 Japan Series, Takano was used strictly as a pinch-hitter, going 1 for 3 with a walk, run and RBI as Kintetsu fell to the Yakult Swallows. In the 2001 Baseball World Cup, he appeared for Japan again. As their DH, he hit .207/.324/.414 with 8 runs in 8 games but 10 whiffs in 29 at-bats. In the Bronze Medal game, he was benched in favor of Tomoaki Sato and Japan fell to Taiwan.
The Tokyo native remained a superb bench player in 2002, producing at a .317/.383/.484 rate in 180 plate appearances, far better than Isobe (who started ahead of him in right field). Had he qualified, he would have ranked 6th in the PL in average, between Kazuhiro Wada and Tatsuya Ozeki. In the 2002 Intercontinental Cup, he was the main DH for Japan, hitting .333/.429/.500.
Takano's playing time fell in 2003, as he hit .230/.321/.486 in 84 plate appearances. He again backed up Isobe in right field and was occasionally used as a pinch-hitter. He hit 5 home runs, 3 of them in one game on July 14. He almost missed a four-homer game when another hit went off the wall for a double. Only five NPB players had hit four home runs in a game - Yoshiyuki Iwamoto, Sadaharu Oh, Tony Solaita, Nigel Wilson and Atsuya Furuta. In 2004, he batted .293/.355/.450 in 214 plate appearances over 72 games, backing up in left field behind Hiroaki Onishi as Rhodes had left the team.
With NPB reorganization that off-season, Kintetsu folded and Takano moved to the expansion Rakuten Golden Eagles. He was their primary left fielder and often hit 5th, but struggled in his only chance at regular time in NPB, hitting .217/.298/.346 with 7 home runs in 240 at-bats. He missed 2006 due to a knee operation. He struggled at .203/.321/.319 in a bench role in 2007, his last action in NPB. After retiring as a player, he became a Rakuten coach.
Overall, Takano batted a respectable .270/.363/.434 in 477 NPB games, with 36 home runs in 1,193 plate appearances.
- Defunct IBAF site
- Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland