Chicago Cubs: At 43, Kosuke Fukudome is still playing in Japan

Chicago Cubs, Kosuke Fukudome (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs, Kosuke Fukudome (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images) /

Former Chicago Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, at 43 years old, is still playing in Japan.

When Kosuke Fukudome came to the Chicago Cubs before the 2008 season, he was supposed to be a big difference-maker on a club that was on the verge of being an elite NL team. It didn’t quite work out that way – he only posted a 5.1 WAR in over four seasons until 2011. Still, he was a player who gave it a reasonable effort, and the fans seemed to appreciate that.

After his MLB career concluded in 2012, after stops with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, Fukudome returned to Japan to play for the Hanshin Tigers in 2013. He put up some good seasons in his return to Japan, and though his playing time has decreased over the past couple of seasons, he still is playing with Hanshin here in 2020, at 43 years old.

In fact, on Thursday, he hit a key two-run home run in the eighth inning of a win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. This was after he hit a two-run double earlier to tie the game. (You can click here to watch a video of the home run.)

Fukudome got off to a hot start in 2008 for the Cubs, making the All-Star team and hitting that big three-run homer in the ninth inning on Opening Day. However, he slowed down after that and wasn’t more than a serviceable player for a few years, batting .262 with 37 home runs in his time on the north side of Chicago.

Still, it’s been a tremendous 22-year baseball career for the left-handed hitter. Overall, he’s collected 2,450 hits with 326 home runs and 1,262 RBIs between Japan and the USA.

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Fukudome may have mainly been a bust in the states, but it’s still great to see him going strong in Japan so late in his career. Hopefully, he will be able to continue playing as long as he wants.