- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 206 lb.
- High School Obu High School
Makihara was drafted out of high school by Yomiuri as their first round pick in the 1981 NPB draft. After a year at ni-gun, he went 12-9 with a save and a 3.67 ERA as a member of the team's 1983 rotation to win the Rookie of the Year Award in the Central League. He was 9th in the league in ERA. He had no decisions in the 1983 Japan Series and a 4.76 ERA, starting game three (a win) and game six (a loss) as the Giants fell in seven. In 1984, the 20/21-year-old right-hander was only 8-9 with a 4.70 ERA and led the circuit with six wild pitches. In '85, Makihara had a 4-7, 4.00 record in 14 outings and entered the history books again when he hit the 5,000th home run in the annals of the Giants franchise, taking Kimiyasu Kudoh deep. It was quite remarkable as it would be the only homer he ever hit in 812 career AB, during which he batted just .107/.130/.124.
In 1986, he rebounded to go 9-6 with a 2.29 ERA. He walked 29 and struck out 125 in 114 innings. His ERA would have led the loop had he qualified in innings. In '87, Hiromi had a line of 10-6, 3.40, 7th in the Central in ERA. He dominated in game three of the 1987 Japan Series, throwing a 3-hit shutout while striking out 11 and walking none. It was one of only two Yomiuri wins that Series.
In his only year over 200 innings, Makihara went 10-13 despite a 2.13 ERA in 1988, the first year he was an All-Star. He fanned 187 and walked 43 in 208 2/3 IP. He tied Yutaka Ono for the shutout lead (4) and led the circuit in strikeouts for the only time. He was second to Ono in ERA.
In '89, he went 12-4 with four saves and a 1.79 ERA and again was an All-Star pick. He again was second in ERA, trailing Masaki Saito this time, and pitched only an inning and a third in Yomiuri's successful run in the 1989 Japan Series, retiring all four batters he faced, two of them on strikeouts. At age 26/27, he went 9-5, 3.96 in an off-year in 1990. He allowed four runs in six innings in a game one shutout less to Hisanobu Watanabe and the Seibu Lions in the 1990 Japan Series.
Making his lone Opening Day start in 1991, Hiromi went on to a so-so year (9-12, 3.39, a league-leading 10 hit batters) but was an All-Star for the third time. He returned to the All-Star Games in '92 and was 12-13 with one save and a 3.58 ERA that year. Walking 80 in 196 innings, his control was far from what it had been.
He led the CL with 12 wild pitches in 1993 but returned to form with a 13-5, 2.28 year, striking out 175 in 173 1/3 IP. He was third in the league in ERA, behind Masahiro Yamamoto and Shinji Imanaka. One of only five players to file for free agency that year, he sought a 3-year contract. Yomiuri manager Shigeo Nagashima showed up at Makihara's door with freshly cut roses and a promise not to trade him. Makihara signed a one-year contract, saying he was deeply moved by Nagashima's actions.
He made his fifth All-Star squad the next season, which he finished at 12-8, 2.82. On May 18, he threw his perfect game, blanking the Hiroshima Carp. There was an error when a fly ball was dropped, but it was foul, so no one reached, making it the rare perfect game with an error. He was fourth in the league in ERA but only third on his own team, trailing Masumi Kuwata and Saito. He outdueled Kimiyasu Kudoh twice in the 1994 Japan Series; if he had lost both games, Seibu would have prevailed, but instead Yomiuri won. Makihara beat Kudoh 1-0 in game two and 3-1 in game six. He fanned 16 and allowed three hits and one run in 18 innings and was named the Japan Series MVP that year.
The 31/32-year-old remained stable in 1995, posting a 11-8, 2.88 ledger and tying for fifth in the CL in ERA. He fell to 6-6, 4.12 in '96 and had chest surgery that year. He allowed two runs in five innings in game two of the 1996 Japan Series and was handed the loss as Yomiuri fell in five. In 1997, the veteran hurler rebounded to 12-9, 3.46.
Makihara got a new job in '98 when he was Yomiuri's primary closer. He went 6-4 with 18 saves and a 3.98 ERA. He improved in 1999, as his final numbers were a 4-3 record, 23 saves and a 2.83 ERA with 55 K and 11 BB in 41 1/3 IP. He was third in the Central League in saves registered and made his sixth and last All-Star squad.
In 2000, the 36/37-year-old struck out 20 in 19 2/3 IP and went 0-1 with a 4.12 ERA and nine saves. He allowed two runs in one "relief" inning in the 2000 Japan Series, dropping game one to the Daiei Hawks. In seven Japan Series, he had a cumulative 3-3 record but two shutouts to his credit. He concluded his career the next year by striking out the only batter he faced.
After retiring as a player, he became a baseball commentator for TBS.