Hiroaki Nakayama (中山 裕章)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 176 lb.
- High School Kochi Shogyo High School
Hiroaki Nakayama was a three-time All-Star in Japan and also pitched in Taiwan but his career was overshadowed by scandal.
Nakayama was a first-round draft pick by the Taiyo Whales in 1985, the same round Masumi Kuwata, Kazuhiro Kiyohara and Hiroshi Nagatomi were picked. He was 0-3 with 3 saves and a 5.11 ERA as a rookie in 1986. The teenager went 5-12 with a 5.17 ERA in 1987, finishing among the Central League leaders in numerous negative departments: losses (tied for 5th with Hisao Niura), runs allowed (78, tied for 8th with Niura), earned runs (76, tied for 6th with Tadashi Sugimoto), walks (44, tied for 10th with Jun Kawabata), balks (2, tied for first with Hajime Kato) and wild pitches (8, tied for third with Isamu Kida).
In 1988, Nakayama came within two of Noboru Akiyama's 26-year-old franchise record for games pitched with 70 appearances. His 57 games relieved-and-finished broke Akio Saito's franchise mark and would stand for 23 years until Shun Yamaguchi topped it. The right-hander was 10-6 with a 2.28 ERA and 24 saves for the stellar year. He pitched three shutout innings in games 2 and 3 of the 1988 NPB All-Star Games, getting the win in game 3 for the CL. He tied for 10th in the CL in wins, led in pitching appearances (9 ahead of Genji Kaku), was third in ERA (behind Yutaka Ono and Hiromi Makihara), was second in saves (13 behind Kaku) and was 7th with 118 strikeouts (between Takao Obana and Tatsuo Komatsu).
Nakayama fell to 1-10, 4.44 with 17 saves in 1989. He faced four batters (Yukio Tanaka, Hiromichi Ishige, Yasuo Fujii and Tsutomu Itoh) in a CL loss in 1989 NPB All-Star Game 1 and allowed an Ishige hit and no runs. He tied for 5th in the CL in losses, was third in saves (behind Tsunemi Tsuda and Kaku) and 5th with 45 games pitched. Moving to the rotation in 1990, he was an Opening Day starter. He had a 8-12, 3.92 record that year. He tied Koji Noda for 4th in the CL in defeats and tied Takashi Inomata for third with three shutouts. Hiroaki was again the Whales' Opening Day starter in 1991, a year in which he was 8-10 with a 4.20 ERA. He finished 4th in the Central League in losses and tied Hiroki Nomura for the most homers allowed (25).
That winter, he was arrested on suspicion of lews acts with a six-year-old and 11-year-old and trying to lure another child. He reportedly fondled one girl over her clothes and had another take off underpants. There were additional rumors as well. Nakayama was suspended for life by Nippon Pro Baseball. He wound up only getting probation though his fiancee broke off their engagement. He managed to find work with a freight shipping company and reportedly made settlements with his victims and apologized to them. Someone organized a campaign to reinstate him and managed to get 100,000 signatures asking for him to be allowed to play baseball again. Under the public pressure, NPB folded and let him return to the sport.
The Chunichi Dragons hired him as a batting practice pitcher with uniform number 125. He was reinstated as an active player in June 1994 and pitched six games (8 H, 3 R in 4 2/3 IP). By 1995, he was again pitching in relief regularly in NPB (3-6, 4 Sv, 3.27 in 44 G). He tied Shinji Sasaoka for 7th in the CL in appearances on the hill and tied for second with 8 wild pitches (one shy of Terry Bross). In 1996, he was 4-4 with 14 saves and a 2.88 ERA, closing when Dong-yol Son struggled. He was 6th in the league in saves. In game 3 of the 1996 NPB All-Star Games, he relieved Takashi Saito in the third inning with a 3-1 lead and allowed a hit to Ichiro Suzuki (who scored) and retired Arihito Muramatsu, Koji Akiyama and Kiyohara. Kazuya Tabata replaced him and the CL won, 4-2.
Nakayama was 7-6 with a 4.34 ERA in 53 games for the Dragons in 1997. He led his team in games pitched and just missed the CL top 10. He saw little action due to injury in 1998 (0 R in 7 IP, 4 G) then was 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA in 31 games in 1999. He made his lone Japan Series trip in the 1999 Japan Series and pitched one 1-2-3 inning (in game 3) as the Dragons fell to the Daiei Hawks, 4 games to 1. Nakayama pitched well in limited time in 2000 (2-1, 2.22 in 25 G, second to Hitoki Iwase in ERA among Dragons pitchers with 5+ G). He allowed four runs in 6 2/3 IP in 2001 to end his NPB career.
Overall, he was 51-71 with 62 saves and a 3.83 ERA in 423 NPB games (70 starts). In 961 IP, he allowed 933 hits and 329 walks while striking out 669. He hit .114/.136/.152. Through 2011, he was tied for 41st in NPB annals in saves (even with Masato Yoshii), 31st with 95 save points (between Tetsuya Shiozaki and Yoshii) and tied for 38th with 47 wild pitches (even with Masayuki Hasegawa and Toyohiko Yoshida).
Nakayama spent 2002 in Taiwan with the China Trust Whales. He was 12-10 with a 2.80 ERA. He was on the 2002 CPBL leaderboard in wins (tied for 5th with Osvaldo Martínez), ERA (3rd behind Chao-Chi Sung and Jonathan Hurst), losses (tied for third with Chi-Hsien Ho), wild pitches (10, 1st, one ahead of Hurst and John Burgos), strikeouts (138, 7th, between Ho and Chung-Nan Tsai) and shutouts (3, 1st). In the 2002 Taiwan Series, he lost two of the three games to the Brother Elephants, including game 1 to fellow Japanese hurler Shin Nakagomi.
In 2003, Nakayama ended his baseball career with a 13-4, 2.20 campaign for the Whales. He was third in ERA (behind John Frascatore and Jeff Andra), first in complete games (6), tied for first in shutouts (2, even with Frascatore, Joe Davenport and Martínez), tied for third in wins (with Wei-Lun Pan and Nakagomi), second in IP (180, behind Andra), was 4th in WHIP (between Hurst and Nakagomi), led in hits allowed (169) and 6th in strikeouts (106, between Hurst and Wen-Hsiung Hsu).