At age 45, Kosuke Fukudome was still playing professional baseball this season in Japan, hitting .160/.270/.293 over 44 games for Chunichi. But this week, he decided it was time to hang them up, and he officially retired from professional baseball with a final game on September 23.
There was a big retirement ceremony for Fukudome, who is a long-time star in Japan, but his mid-career sojourn in the United States was not omitted. Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts included a nice message in the video, inviting Fukudome back to Wrigley Field for a visit. Matt Murton, who was a teammate of Fukudome’s with the Cubs AND with the Hanshin Tigers, had some wonderful things to say. And Seiya Suzuki, whose signing with the Cubs was the most recent large contract for a Japanese outfielder since Fukudome, himself, included a message as well.
It’s very nice, and you can see the emotional reaction from Fukudome:
It’s wild to me that Fukudome left Japan to play in the United States heading into his age 31 season, played there for five years, and then he still played another DECADE after returning to Japan.
Fukudome ultimately hit .279/.375/.462 across all the levels of his career, totaling 24 years and 2717 games. He scored 1335 runs, drove in 1301, and homered 334 times. I’ve gotta figure that his 2519 career hits would also put him up on some international lists, too. It was really a long and successful career for the lefty outfielder.
Congratulations to Kosuke Fukudome on a long and incredible professional baseball career, and I hope he does take the Cubs up on that offer to come back for a visit.