Ex-Tigers Outfielder Yokota Dies at 28 from Battle with Brain Cancer

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Shintaro Yokota, right, reacts as he receives a bouquet of followers from then Tigers skipper Akihiro Yano during his retirement ceremony in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, on Sept. 26, 2019.

Former Hanshin Tigers outfielder Shintaro Yokota died on Tuesday. He was 28.

Yokota joined the Tigers in 2014 out of Kagoshima-Jitsugyo High School in Kagoshima Prefecture as the team’s second draft pick.

An outfield prospect with a terrific arm and strong hitting skills, Yokota made his first-team debut in 2016. However, he was diagnosed with brain cancer during spring training in 2017.

After struggling with symptoms from brain cancer, Yokota retired following the 2019 season.

In his “retirement game” on Sept. 26, 2019 — a farm league matchup against the SoftBank Hawks at the Tigers’ minor league stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, Yokota took over in center field after the top of the eighth inning and fired a perfect strike to the catcher to cut down a SoftBank runner at home — a play known as “the miracle throw to the plate.”

Yokota appeared in 38 career games, collecting 20 hits, four RBIs, four stolen bases and finishing with a .190 average.