The Hiroshima Carp announced earlier today that forty-one-year-old Yoshikazu Kura and thirty-seven-year-old Jun Hirose will be retiring this year. Neither played in any Ichi-gun games this season. They approached team officials and submitted their intent to retire.
A press conference will be held for the two players in the near future.
Source: Sponichi 9/20/2016, Nikkan Sports 9/20/2016, Sports Hochi 9/20/2016, Daily Sports 9/20/2016
[UPDATE 9/26 @ 7:38pm]
Kura and Hirose held a press conferences at Mazda Stadium on September 25.
Notes on Kura:
- He never really had fun while playing baseball and hoped to have a little fun during the last game of his career.
- He learned a lot from Hiroki Kuroda. He believes he never would have lasted nineteen years without his help at the beginning.
- He was not with the team when it won the pennant. He watched the game on television. He was disappointed he could not be there, but as he watched, he felt like he was there celebrating with the team.
- He had been thinking about retiring because he has been unable to help the Ichi-gun team the last few years. He only kept going because he promised himself he would keep playing until Kuroda came back. The final nail in the coffin was when he failed to spent any time at Ichi-gun this year.
- The game he remembers the most is the one where Kuroda picked up his fifteenth victory of the season on October 7, 2005.
- His happiest memory is catching Kenta Maeda’s no-hitter on April 6, 2012.
Kura made the starting line-up at catcher for the Yakult game on September 25 and caught Hiroki Kuroda for the first time since September 27, 2007. He was in the game for just one batter (result: walk). The game was later canceled due to rain.
Notes on Hirose:
- He is looking forward to his retirement game and hopes that he can enjoy it. He would like to finish his career with a smile on his face.
- He started the year at Ni-gun and physically felt great, but he started feeling aches and pains toward the end of the season. He decided to retire because his body no longer moved in the way that he wanted it to. He made his final decision after he considered his options and talked it over with a team official and his family.
- He spent the last two years at Ni-gun, but did not want that fact to define him. He wanted all the years he spent on baseball to mean something and he did not want younger players to pick up bad habits from him, or let fans down by doing something he might later regret. He spent the last two years trying to figure out what baseball meant to him by facing his career head on with sincerity.
- He is extremely grateful to everyone that helped him during his sixteen year career, especially since he struggled with injuries.
- He still strongly remembers setting a new NPB record by reaching base in fifteen consecutive trips to the plate in 2013, between April 21 and April 26. He remembers feeling like he wanted to run away when he extended his streak to fifteen and then dreading the next trip to the plate, only to fly out to first on the first pitch.
Source: Hiroshima announcement (Kura), Hiroshima announcement (Hirose), Nikkan Sports 9/25/2016, Nikkan Sports 9/25/2016, Daily Sports 9/25/2016, Daily Sports 9/25/2016, Daily Sports 9/25/2016
[UPDATE 10/2 @ 7:18pm]
The Carp held a retirement ceremony for Hirose after their game against Yakult on October 1. He was tossed into the air seven times.
Source: Sponichi 10/2/2016