Great Tiger Moments 4: August 30, 1973

As the season was heading into its final month and the Tigers fighting to catch the Yomiuri Giants (who had won 8 straight Nippon Series at this point), the Tigers faced the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium. Young ace Yutaka Enatsu (25) was on the mound, and he pitched a game for the ages. In fact, through nine innings he was holding onto a no-hitter. Unfortunately for him, the nine Tigers hitters (himself included) could not plate a single base runner, and the game went into extra innings. Enatsu trotted out to the mound in the 10th, shut out the Dragons, and sat in the dugout as the home team again got shut out in the bottom half. Once again, the ace mowed down the Dragons, completing an unthinkable 11 innings of no-hit ball.

The bottom of inning saw Enatsu slated to lead off. Pitchers are rarely good hitters, and Enatsu was no exception (he finished the year batting .133). Rather than subbing in a pinch hitter, manager Masayasu Kaneda let him step into the batter’s box. The result:

Unbelievable. After the game, an elated Enatsu was quoted as saying, “I guess one person can win a baseball game on his own!” Truly on this night, he was right. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they finished the year just 0.5 games out of first place, and just 1.0 ahead of third-place Chunichi. The Giants went on to win their ninth straight Nippon Series, but the streak ended the following year when the Chunichi Dragons ousted them, led by manager Wally Yonamine.

Great Tiger Moments 1: April 30, 2009

The 2009 season was not a good one for the Hanshin Tigers. They did not make the playoffs, finishing 4th in the Central League with a 67-73-4 record. For one magical night, though, fans rejoiced as though the team had won it all.

At Koshien Stadium on April 30, 2009, the team was facing the pathetic (last-place) Yokohama Baystars. This particular series was tied 1-1, and the third match looked to be wrapped up by the visiting team. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the score was 2-0. The Tigers brought in a pinch hitter (Imaoka) in place of the pitcher, though it seemed like it could easily end with his at bat. Instead, the unthinkable happened:

That’s right. Five straight hits (Imaoka single, Hirano triple, Sekimoto single, Toritani single, Kanemoto walk-off single) and the Tigers walked off the field winners and owners of a 11-11-1 record to end the opening month. Exciting baseball, is it not?