Hiroo Ishii (石井 浩郎)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 185 lb.
Hiroo Ishii topped 20 homers his first five seasons in Nippon Pro Baseball but never after that.
Ishii played for Prince Hotels in the industrial leagues after college. He was with the Japanese national team in the 1989 Intercontinental Cup; Japan finished second to Cuba, their best finish in 10 years. The Kintetsu Buffaloes picked him in the first round of the 1989 draft. Pneumonia sidelined him for the early part of 1990. He joined the team in June and immediately impressed. His first hit was on June 13 off Eiji Hamanaka and his first homer came July 4 versus Tadashi Sugimoto. He hit 9 home runs in July to tie a rookie record. In 86 games, he hit .300/.410/.605 with 22 home runs. Had he qualified, he would have been 6th in the Pacific League in average (between Jim Traber and Hiromichi Ishige), with only Kazuhiro Kiyohara having a better OPS among the top 10 in average. He was the 15th NPB rookie to have a 20-homer season.
Ishii batted .290/.358/.544 with 21 homers in 1991. Had he qualified, he would have been 9th in the PL in average, between Koichi Hori and Ken Hirano. He hit .290/.370/.535 with 29 home runs and 89 RBI in 1992, his first full season. He made his first PL All-Star team and was 8 RBI shy of league leader Boomer Wells. In 1993, he produced at a .309/.393/.524 clip with 22 home runs and 80 RBI. He led the league with 7 sacrifice flies and 147 hits. He finished second in the batting race, 10 points behind Hatsuhiko Tsuji. He was 25 points shy of slugging leader Ralph Bryant and 2 points behind OBP leader Tsuji. He made his second All-Star team and won the Best Nine as the league's best first baseman.
Ishii had his last big season in 1994, with a .316/.409/.591 batting line, 88 runs, 74 walks, 31 doubles, 33 home runs and 111 RBI. He led the PL in both RBI (5 more than Bryant) and slugging (one point over Bryant). He was third in average behind Ichiro Suzuki and Kazunori Yamamoto, second in hits (though his 154 were 56 behind leader Ichiro), tied for third in doubles (behind Ichiro and Kevin Reimer) and second in home runs (two behind Bryant). He made his third and last All-Star team and his second and last Best Nine.
Ishii only got into 47 games in 1995, hitting .276/.371/.441. On March 31, 1996, he fractured his wrist; he only was 2 for 7 for the '96 season. He got into a nasty salary dispute and was traded to the Yomiuri Giants for Yuji Yoshioka and Hiroshi Ishige, a deal that panned out badly for the Buffaloes.
Ishii batted .333/.400/.425 in 25 games for Yomiuri in 1997, playing at third base in limited time with Kiyohara at first base for the Giants. In 1998, he hit .253/.353/.377 in 184 plate appearances over 74 games. He backed up Kiyohara at 1B and Daisuke Motoki and Koji Goto at 3B. In his third season for Yomiuri, he hit .258/.365/.468 with 11 HR in 186 AB in 1999. He backed up Kiyohara at first base and pinch-hit frequently.
Chiba Lotte and Yokohama
Ishii next moved to the Chiba Lotte Marines, hitting .266/.370/.410 with 10 HR in 2000. He was at .253/.350/.437 in 36 games for the Marines in 2001 then finished up his career by batting a meek .208/.287/.247 in 34 games for the 2002 Yokohama BayStars.
After his playing career
Ishii hit .289/.379/.506 with 162 home runs in 974 NPB games and 3,602 plate appearances.