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Kazushige Nagashima (長嶋 一茂 Nagashima Kazushige ?, January 26, 1966 -) is a Japanese actor, sports commentator and former professional baseball player. His father is Japanese baseball legend, Shigeo Nagashima.

Contents

Biography

Nagashima was born in Tokyo, Japan, as the oldest son of former Japanese national team manager Shigeo Nagashima. His brother, Masaoki, is a racecar driver, and his sister, Mina, is a newscaster. His wife works as his manager, and he has twin daughters.

Professional career

Nagashima entered Rikkyo University, following his father, and attracted lots of attention from professional scouts, being the son of Shigeo Nagashima. He was drafted in the first round of the 1988 draft by the Yakult Swallows, and his first professional hit was a home run against the Yomiuri Giants, and the pitcher was Bill Gullickson. He was touted as the next big star in Japanese baseball, after his father, but failed to live up to expectations. Nagashima did not hit or field well, and his playing time decreased as the years went on. In 1992, he spent a year with the Los Angeles Dodgers single-A team in the United States, but made little improvement.

He was about to be released from the Swallows in 1992, but was traded for money to the Yomiuri Giants, where his father was the manager. He did not play any better with the Giants, but his team won the league championship in 1994, and the father-son combination became a pet topic of the Japanese media. Nagashima suffered various injuries to his wrists and ankles during this period, and in 1993, he went to the U.S. to undergo surgery.

Nagashima's baseball career ended in 1996. The team demoted him to the minor leagues, along with a fine and a suspension, when he insulted coach Shozo Doi after he was told to practice bunting. Nagashima explained that he had no intention of insulting Doi, but pressure from the team and his own frustration increased when he yelled at Doi for telling him to bunt. Giants owner Tsuneo Watanabe was upset, and manager Shigeo Nagashima was forced to tell his son that he would not be offered a contract for next year. Several teams showed interest in signing Nagashima, but he announced his retirement, ending his nine year career in the professional leagues.

Nagashima had poor relationships on many managers and coaches throughout his career. Former Yomiuri Giants manager Tsuneo Horiuchi and former Yakult Swallows manager Katsuya Nomura had particular problems with Nagashima. Horiuchi (a pitching coach while Nagashima was on the Giants) was irritated at Nagashima, who probably spent more time partying than taking batting practice. Nomura criticized Nagashima when he was cut from the Giants, since he was the only player that never took notes when Nomura held daily meetings with the team during spring training.

Post retirement

Nagashima became a sportscaster after retiring, hosting several sports shows from 1997~2002. He appeared on an NHK drama series in 2000, and has starred in several movies since then. His acting is thought to somewhat better than his ability on the baseball field.

Among his drama appearances was the role of Motorbike Cop Ken Nakajima in "You're under arrest "( Japanese -Taiho Shichauzo )in 2003. This drama was based on a long running anime series of the same name. In the anime Ken Nakajima is a lovable but slightly oafish character. Nagashima's somewhat broad acting style perfectly suits this role.

He has also appeared as a commentator for K-1 broadcasts, owing to his experience with Kyokushin Karate. He was knocked unconscious when he was put into a mock matchup with former K-1 World Max champion Masato on a television show.

He also appears regularly on a quiz game show, and on other variety television shows. He is in several television commercials, including one when he appears alongside his father.

At the beginning of 2005, he was made the Yomiuri Giants special advisor, and the Yomiuri Shinbun sports advisor. He was given the position with a recommendation from Yomiuri Giants owner Tsuneo Watanabe, showing that the rift between him and his former team has healed over time. This is one of the only instances where a mediocre baseball player was given a high position in the Yomiuri organization.

Nagashima played the voice of "Kōichi," father of the human protagonist in Studio Ghibli's 2008 animated film Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea.

Trivia

  • Nagashima admitted to using steroids during his professional career on a television show reviewing the 2004 Athens Olympics. Hungarian hammer thrower Adrián Annus had his gold medal taken away after failing a drug test, and Nagashima admitted that he failed several drug tests during his baseball career as well.
  • When Kazushige Nagashima was in elementary school, his father, Shigeo, took him to a game against the Yakult Swallows and the Yomiuri Giants (coincidentally, these were the two teams Kazushige would play on during his career). Incredibly, Shigeo forgot that he had taken his son with him, leaving Kazushige by himself at the stadium. Shigeo finally remembered his son when his wife reminded him when he got home. Luckily, the umpires at the stadium found Kazushige, and returned him home safely.
  • He was unable to be at his father's last career game because he had to go to the dentist.
  • In March, 2004, his father had a stroke, and Kazushige Nagashima took on the role of relaying his father's condition to the media. He also came up with the idea of writing a large "3" on the Japanese flag for the Japanese national team to take to the Athens Olympics. Shigeo Nagashima was scheduled to be the manager for the Japanese national team before he fell ill. 3 was the number Shigeo Nagashima wore when he played for the Yomiuri Giants.
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