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Former SF Giants Outfielder Still Driving In Runs At 48

Former New York Mets outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo of the Pacific League champion Nippon Ham Fighters is tossed up in the air by his teammates as he will retire after this season while Fighter won the Japan Series of baseball games in Sapporo, Japan's northern island of Hokkaido 26 October 2006. Fighters defeated Central League champion Chunichi Dragons 4-1 and won the best-of-seven series 4-1. AFP PHOTO/JIJI PRESS (Photo by AFP / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP via Getty Images)
Former New York Mets outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo of the Pacific League champion Nippon Ham Fighters is tossed up in the air by his teammates as he will retire after this season while Fighter won the Japan Series of baseball games in Sapporo, Japan's northern island of Hokkaido 26 October 2006. Fighters defeated Central League champion Chunichi Dragons 4-1 and won the best-of-seven series 4-1. AFP PHOTO/JIJI PRESS (Photo by AFP / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP via Getty Images)
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Tsuyoshi Shinjo, SF Giants
SF Giants center fielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo hits a double against New York Mets’ starting pitcher Mike Bacsik during sixth inning action on August 22, 2002, in San Francisco. (Photo by Monica Davey/ AFP via Getty Images)

It’s probably been a long time since SF Giants fans heard outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo’s name, but the 48-year old is in the middle of an improbable comeback.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo has not played Major League Baseball since 2003. The onetime SF Giants outfielder has not appeared in the Nippon Professional Baseball (Japan’s most prestigious baseball league) since 2006. Yet, the now 48-year old participated in an NPB tryout just a few days ago. In fact, he recorded an RBI-single that someone screengrabbed and shared on Twitter.

Late last year, Shinjo expressed a desire to make the unlikely return to the highest level of Japanese baseball. At the time, he was quoted (translated from Japanese) as saying, “I know it’s close to impossible, but if there’s even a 1% chance I’m gonna try.”

In the at-bat on video, Shinjo, who was never known for his plate discipline, fouls off the first pitch and then lines the next one into left field. A runner on second base comes around to score on the base hit.

For those who remember Shinjo’s one-year stint with the Giants in 2002, the video will send you a bit down memory lane. Shinjo still has his upright-open stance with his arms outstretched toward home plate. When the pitcher kicks, he responds with an equally aggressive leg kick of his own.

Shinjo’s time with the Giants was sandwiched between two separate stints with the New York Mets. Over his three big-league seasons, he hit .245/.299/.370 and blasted 20 home runs. Prior to coming stateside, Shinjo had been a mainstay in the Hanshin Tigers lineup for a decade and after leaving the Mets in 2003, he had a three-year tenure with the Nippon Ham Fighters. In 13 NPB seasons, Shinjo hit .254/.305/.432 with 205 home runs and 716 runs batted in.

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As he said, the odds are stacked against him, but if he can pull it off, Tsuyoshi Shinjo might just make the most impressive athletic feat of his career just a couple of years before he turns 50.

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