Despite marginal talent Tsuyoshi Shinjo was a very popular player in his native Japan due in large part to his bubbling personality, positive attitude and his flashy clothes. But after ten years playing for the Hanshin Tigers Shinjo decided it was time to take his talents to the U.S. and signed with the Mets. Much like in his native Japan Shinjo quickly became a fan favorite for many of the same reasons. Met fans especially loved the little hop he generated after catching a fly ball.
After hitting a home run in the Mets home opener, Shinjo went on the have a solid season at the plate while playing stellar defense in the outfield. He finished the season with 10 home runs and 56 RBIs and was named to the Topps All-Rookie team. But despite his popularity the Mets traded him to the San Francisco Giants along with Desi Relaford in exchange for pitcher Shawn Estes during the off-season. He spent one disappointing season with the Giants but did manage to become the first Japanese player to appear in a World Series game. After the season, the Giants released him and he once again signed with the Mets.
His second tour of duty with the Mets was not like the first. He struggled at the plate and with his average at just .193 the Mets sent him down to the minors at the end of June where he finished out the season playing for the Norfolk Tides. Following the season Shinjo returned to Japan where he finished out his playing career with the Nippon Ham Fighters before retiring after the 2006 season.
In 185 games for the Mets Shinjo batted .251 with 11 home runs and 63 RBIs.
While with the Mets Shinjo wore number 5.
Tsuyoshi Shinjo also played for the San Francisco Giants in 2002.