- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 171 lb.
- School Meiji University
- High School Kochi Shogyo High School
After a 21-14 record in college, Yoshitaka Katori was signed outside of the draft by the Yomiuri Giants. He debuted with Yomiuri in 1979 and went 3-2 with two saves and a 3.36 ERA. In '80, Katori went 4-3 with three saves and a 1.78 ERA, defying any sophomore slump. He went 1-0, 2.37 in 1981 and 3-2, 4.50 in '82, not seeing a great deal of time either year.
In 1983, the 26-year-old reliever was 5-2 with one save and a 3.64 ERA. He pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in four appearances in the first of eight Japan Series he would pitch in, but Yomiuri still fell in 7 to the Seibu Lions. In '84, Katori was 4-3 with six saves and a 2.45 ERA. The next season, Yoshitaka went 4-5 with four saves and a 3.52 mark. In 1986, the right-hander had a 4-3 record, four saves and a 2.32 ERA in 101 innings of work.
Katori made his only Central League All-Star team in '87 and finished at 7-4 with 18 saves and a 1.90 ERA in a league-leading 63 appearances. He allowed one run in six innings in the 1987 Japan Series but the Giants fell once more. In '88, Yoshitaka had a 8-4 record, 3.20 ERA and 17 saves. In his 11th and final year with Yomiuri, the relief pitcher went 2-1 with three saves and a 3.15 ERA. He pitched 2/3 of a scoreless frame in the 1989 Japan Series and won his first ring.
In 1990, Katori moved from the most successful team in NPB history to the dominant club of the era when he joined the Seibu Lions. In spring training, he plunked Benny Distefano, leading Distefano to throw his bat at Katori, leading to Benny's ejection. Katori had a fine year that season - starting on Opening Day, he had saves in ten straight chances, a NPB record at that point in time. He finished at 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 24 saves, leading the Pacific League in saves and save points and being named the Fireman of the Year in the PL. He pitched a scoreless inning in the Japan Series as Seibu swept his former club in four games.
'91 marked a trip to the PL All-Star team and a 7-1, 1.78 year with 8 saves and he pitched two scoreless innings as Seibu won the 1991 Japan Series. In 1992, Katori's line read 10-1 with 16 saves and a 2.47 ERA; in his first bad Japan Series, he went 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA but Seibu won their third straight. 1993 was a 5-4 year with another sixteen saves and an ERA of 2.25. Katori made his third All-Star trip and went 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA in four appearances for Seibu in the 1993 Japan Series, which they dropped.
Yoshitaka led the PL with 8 hit batsmen in '94 while going 7-3 with five saves and a 3.40 ERA. In his final Japan Series, he allowed 3 runs in two innings and the Lions fell to his former Yomiuri club. At age 38 in 1995, Katori posted a 6-3 record, a 2.42 ERA and two saves. He followed that with a 7-3, 2 Sv, 2.40 year. At age 40, he finally faded away at 1-1, 9.82 in eight outings.
Overall, Katori went 91-46 with 131 saves and a 2.76 ERA in 755 outings. Through 2005, he was 10th all-time in NPB in saves, third in save points (behind Shingo Takatsu and Kazuhiro Sasaki) and 8th in games pitched.
In 2001, Katori was a coach for the Vero Beach Dodgers.