Shinji Hata (秦 真司)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 176 lb.
Shinji Hata was an Olympic player and a one-time All-Star in Nippon Pro Baseball.
Hata was on the Japanese team that won the 1984 Olympics; baseball was not a medal event that year, so he did not get a gold medal.  He was picked by the Yakult Swallows in the second round of the 1985 NPB draft, after they took fellow 1984 Olympian Katsumi Hirosawa in the first round. 
He made his pro debut in 1985, getting his first hit off Masaaki Saito and his first homer off Hirofumi Sekine.  He hit only .182/.217/.364 in 46 plate appearances over 41 games that season, backing up Yukio Yaegashi (he was actually the 4th-string catcher). In 1986, he was third-string behind Yaegashi and Shinya Ashizawa and batted .238/.315/.381 in 74 plate appearances over 59 games. As the #2 catcher behind Yaegashi in 1987, he slumped to .206/.229/.397 in 70 PA and 33 G.
The Tokushima native succeeded Yaegashi as the starting catcher in 1988 and put together a batting line of .251/.308/.376 with 7 homers. He hit even better in 1989 (.290/.343/.437). He led Yakult's regulars in batting average, though Larry Parrish and Takahiro Ikeyama had better slugging percentages. With the arrival of future Hall-of-Famer Atsuya Furuta (an Olympian four years after Hata) in 1990, though, Hata had to move to the outfield. He hit .292/.358/.520 in 279 plate appearances that summer, in a part-time role. Only Ikeyama had a higher slugging percentage for the Swallows.
Becoming a starting outfielder in 1991, he produced at a .292/.345/.491 clip with 16 homers in 383 at-bats. He was third on the team in homers, after Ikeyama and Hirosawa. Making the 1991 NPB All-Star Games, his lone All-Star stint, he was 0 for 1 for the Central League in a 1-0 Game 1 win over the Pacific League All-Stars. He took over for Akinobu Mayumi and was retired by Satoru Komiyama. In Game 2, a 3-3 tie, he started in right and hit 6th. After being retired by Katsuyoshi Murata, he was replaced by Hirosawa. 
Hata hit 15 home runs in 1992, batting .251/.342/.439. He was second in the CL with 8 times hit by pitch, 3 behind Furuta. He hit .261/.346/.435 in the 1992 Japan Series; down 3 games to 2 to the Seibu Lions, he hit a 10th-inning homer off Tetsuya Shiozaki to win game 6, but Yakult dropped game 7 to fall short. It was still their first CL title as the Swallows. 
In 1993, he faded to .239/.303/.370 at the plate, with 7 home runs. He still played every game in the 1993 Japan Series as Yakult won their first title and he hit .273/.273/.318 as they got their revenge on Seibu.  During 1994, Hata hit .242/.300/.427 as their #4 outfielder behind Tetsuya Iida, Jerald Clark and Yukio Arai. He tied for third in the CL with 4 triples, behind Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Shuji Nishiyama. He was their third-most-used outfielder when they took another pennant in 1995, behind Iida and Mitsuru Manaka. He batted .286/.326/.452 with 9 homers in 252 at-bats. He was very good when Yakult beat the Orix BlueWave in the 1995 Japan Series, going 5 for 10 with a walk, splitting outfield time with Manaka and Atsunori Inaba as Iida was the only set outfielder.
The veteran batted .241/.348/.397 in 1996. By 1997, he was rarely playing the field (7 games; Dwayne Hosey, Iida and Inaba were the starters and Manaka the primary outfield backup). He was pinch-hitting frequently still, getting 73 plate appearances in 71 games and showing he could still do well at the plate (.270/.361/.429). He was 3 for 6 with a walk in the 1997 Japan Series as Yakult topped Seibu. After a rough 1998 (.167/.196/.271, 0 HR in 52 PA and 49 G), though, he was let go by the Swallows after 14 seasons. 
Hata caught on with the Nippon Ham Fighters for 1999 but only went 2 for 16 with 3 walks and a double. He was released and this time the Chiba Lotte Marines signed him. He hit .267/.290/.333 in 31 plate appearances for them in 2000 to end his playing career. He had batted .262/.324/.428 with 97 homers, 301 runs and 341 RBI in 3,078 plate appearances over 1,182 games in NPB. He showed surprising speed for a one-time catcher, swiping 31 bases in 43 tries.
Hata then went into coaching with Chiba Lotte's minor league team in 2001. He was a baseball commentator from 2002-2004 then coached for Chunichi in 2005 and 2006. After another year as a commentator, he was hired as the inaugural manager of the Gunma Diamond Pegasus in the independent Baseball Challenge League in 2008. He guided them to a title in 2009 and remained the reins through 2011. He coached for the Yomiuri Giants from 2011-2017, some of that time in the minors. He then went back into broadcasting. 
- Defunct Japanbaseballdaily.com site by Gary Garland
- Japanese Wikipedia entry
- Japanese Wikipedia
- Japanese Baseball Database by Michael Eng
- Remembering Japanese Baseball by Robert Fitts, pg. 191
- All Japan Series stats are from the old Japanbaseballdaily.com site
- Japanese Wikipedia entry