Shigeo Nagashima


Shigeo Nagashima
Shigeo Nagashima
長嶋 茂雄
Third baseman
Born: February 20, 1936 (1936-02-20) (age 75)
Sakura, Chiba, Japan
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Professional debut
NPB: April 5, 1958 for the Yomiuri Giants
Last professional appearance
October 14, 1974 for the Yomiuri Giants
NPB statistics
Batting average     .305
Home runs     444
Hits     2471
RBIs     1522
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the Japanese
Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Baseball Hall of FameEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Inducted     1988

Shigeo Nagashima (長嶋 茂雄 Nagashima Shigeo?, born February 20, 1936 in Sakura, Chiba, Japan) is a Japanese former professional baseball player and manager.

Nagashima was by far the most popular figure in Japanese baseball during his career. His contributions to the development of the sport in Japan are immeasurable.

Contents

Biography

Nagashima played baseball at his local high school, and on the Rikkyo University baseball team from 1954–1957. He joined the Yomiuri Giants in 1958, and his career made his name almost synonymous with Japanese baseball. His jersey number (3) is now a retired number for the Yomiuri Giants.[1]

After retiring, he became manager of the Yomiuri Giants from 1975–1980, and again from 1993–2001. He was scheduled to manage the Japanese national team for the 2004 Athens Olympics, but he suffered a stroke shortly before and was hospitalized. He has recovered from his stroke, appearing at a baseball game in the Tokyo Dome in 2005, and in a television commercial in 2006, with his son, Kazushige.

Nagashima has four children. His eldest son, Kazushige Nagashima is a former professional baseball player, and currently works as a sportscaster. Kazushige was not nearly as successful as his father on the field, but he played on the Yomiuri Giants when his father was manager, and has since launched a successful career as an actor and TV personality. His eldest daughter works as a businesswoman, and his younger daughter was a newscaster for TV Asahi. His youngest son is a professional race-car driver. Kazushige had twin daughters in 2004, making Nagashima a grandfather. Shigeo lost his wife, Akiko, on September 18, 2007.

Amateur career

Nagashima was actually a fan of the Hanshin Tigers during his childhood (the Tigers are the arch rival of Nagashima's future team, the Yomiuri Giants). After graduating from his local high school in Chiba, he entered Rikkyo University, and became the team's regular third baseman. He won the batting title for two consecutive years in the Tokyo Big6 Baseball League, and was given the Best Nine Award five seasons in a row at third base. By his senior year, scouts from every professional team wanted to sign Nagashima, and the Nankai Hawks and Hiroshima Carp were particularly active in recruiting Nagashima. It was almost decided that he would sign with the Hawks, but he ended up joining the Yomiuri Giants in November, 1957. He signed with the Giants for 18,000,000 yen; the highest salary for a baseball player at the time.

Professional career

struck out in all four of his at-bats against Masaichi Kaneda in 1958

Nagashima made his professional debut in April 1958, and struck out in all four of his at-bats against Masaichi Kaneda (coincidentally, Sadaharu Oh also struck out in all of his at-bats in his debut game against Kaneda). Regardless, Nagashima became the team's clean-up hitter by mid-season, and the Giants won the league championship. Nagashima led the league in HRs (29) and RBIs (92), and was awarded the rookie of the year award. He would have hit .300 with over 30 home runs and 30 steals in his rookie year, but he had one home run scratched off his record because he forgot to step on first base while rounding the bases after hitting a home run.[2]

Nagashima played his most popularized game on June 25, 1959, when the Japanese emperor attended a baseball game for the first time. Nagashima hit the game-winning home run off Minoru Murayama, and rookie Sadaharu Oh also had a home run in the game.

The Yomiuri Giants cleanup consisting of Sadaharu Oh batting third, and Nagashima batting fourth, were nicknamed the ON Hou, (translated to: Oh-Nagashima Cannon) as Nagashima continued his hitting prowess, and Oh emerged as the best hitter in the league. The Giants won the league championship nine years in a row from 1965–1973, and Oh and Nagashima dominated the batting titles during this period. Nagashima won the season MVP award five times, and the Best Nine Award every single year of his career (a total 17 times).

Nagashima won only two Golden Glove awards, because the title was established in Japan late during his career, in 1972. Nagashima was a flashy fielder, making extravagant (and rather unnecessary) leaps and dashes to field even the most routine ground ball. Giants fans were delighted by Nagashima's fielding, even when he made careless errors.

After winning his sixth batting title in 1971, Nagashima suddenly fell into a hitting slump. The team attempted to revive him by giving him more at-bats, but it was obvious Nagashima was no longer capable of the success he had shown during his younger years. The team wanted Nagashima to take over as manager after Tetsuharu Kawakami, who had led the team for 14 years, and Nagashima doubled as a player and a coach in his final seasons. In 1974, the Chunichi Dragons won the league championship, breaking the nine-year streak held by the Giants, and Nagashima played his final game on October 14 against the Dragons, grounding out to short for a double-play in his final at-bat. The game was followed by an elaborate retirement ceremony. By 1970, almost every single baseball manual featured Nagashima on the cover, even when the actual book was written by someone else.

Managerial career

Nagashima's appointment as manager of the Yomiuri Giants was announced almost immediately after his retirement. Nagashima was given control of the team in November 1974, and he immediately rid the Giants of the tactical, small ball style left by his predecessor, relying instead on superior hitting and pitching to carry the team. He also recruited third baseman Davey Johnson from the majors, who became the first ever non-Japanese player to play for the Giants. The changes did not turn out well in the 1975 season, as the Giants ended the season in last place for the first time in the team's history. However, the Giants recruited star players during the off-seasons, while Nagashima made further changes (including converting a life-long outfielder to third base) and the Giants quickly re-assumed their dominant position in the Central League, winning league championships in 1976 and 1977.

The Giants lost the pennant to the Yakult Swallows in 1978, and on October 1, former Giants manager Shigeru Mizuhara made an appearance on TV Asahi's news program, criticizing Nagashima's handling of the team. In the off-season of the same year, Nagashima and the Giants were involved in a huge controversy concerning the drafting of pitcher Suguru Egawa. The Giants ended in fifth place in 1979, and Nagashima's head coach was fired mid-season in yet another controversy. Criticism towards Nagashima greatly increased, and the team's owners decided to fire Nagashima during the 1980 season. Nagashima's immense popularity made it difficult for fans to stomach the firing, and some fans even attempted to boycott the Yomiuri newspaper in protest.

The Giants won five league championships and two championship series after Nagashima's departure, but many people felt that the sport's popularity in Japan was fading away, and called for Nagashima to be reinstated to revive Japanese baseball. Several teams sought Nagashima to become their manager, but he either refused or ignored their calls. Nagashima returned to the Yomiuri Giants in 1992, when Tsuneo Watanabe became the new owner of the team (Watanabe had a long-lasting affiliation with Nagashima). In the 1992 draft, he won the lottery to sign Hideki Matsui, who would become the new star of the Giants during Nagashima's second run as manager.

Nagashima's Giants won championships in 1994, 1996 and 2000, and he managed the team until 2001. It is interesting to note that for the 2000 Japan Series, Nagashima was managing against his former teammate, Sadaharu Oh, who was the manager for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. The press called it the O-N Series. In 2002, it was announced that he would lead the Japanese Olympic baseball team. The team (consisting entirely of players from the Japanese professional leagues) beat China, Taiwan, and Korea to win the Asia tournament in November 2003, but Nagashima suffered a stroke in March 2004, and was unable to travel to the Athens Olympics. The team ended up with a bronze medal in the Olympics after losing to Australia.

Trivia

There are numerous stories concerning Nagashima's forgetfulness. It is unclear whether Nagashima purposely exhibits this kind of behavior for comic effect, or whether the strange remarks are really part of his personality.

  • When asked what his major was at Rikkyo University, he answered that he was a baseball major.
  • He snuck out from his college dorm to try to sign with the Chunichi Dragons, but was told to come back after graduating.
  • Nagashima was given a customized entrance and graduation test from his university, since he would have failed the standard tests taken by other students. He still got several questions wrong on his test, including pronouncing the English word "The" as "Tehe".
  • When checking into hotels, he often wrote that his job was "Shigeo Nagashima" instead of "Professional baseball player".
  • He forgot the name of the bank that his contract money had been deposited into.
  • When trying to return home after a game, Nagashima forgot the location of his house, and had to call his house's maid to ask how to return home. His wife ended up having to take him home from the stadium.
  • On May 5, 1973, Nagashima forgot that he had taken his son, Kazushige, to the game with him, and returned home by himself, leaving Kazushige alone at the stadium. Kazushige was safe, having been found by the umpires. May 5 is Kodomo no hi (Children's day) in Japan.
  • When appearing as a commentator for a baseball game, he remarked "Hmm, I think the team that scores more runs will win this game."
  • He appeared on the cover of the very first issue of legendary manga magazine, Shonen Sunday, in 1959.

In 1993, Nagashima appeared on "Hateshinai Yume wo (果てしない夢を)[3]," a collaborative single featuring Japanese artist Rev and bands Zygg, Zard, and Wands. This was his only musical recording, and his vocals were used in a live performance of the song and appeared on the 2011 What a Beautiful Memory: Forever You DVD.

Statistics

YEAR Team Number G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB SB SH SF BB IBB HBP SO DP AVG OBP SLG OPS
1958 Yomiuri Giants 3 130 502 89 153 34 8 29 92 290 37 1 6 36 15 5 53 3 .305(2) .353 .578 .931
1959 124 449 88 150 32 6 27 82 275 21 0 3 70 17 4 40 9 .334(1) .426 .612 1.038
1960 126 452 71 151 22 12 16 64 245 31 0 2 70 32 0 28 8 .334(1) .422 .542 .964
1961 130 448 84 158 32 9 28 86 292 14 1 5 88 35 1 34 14 .353(1) .456 .652 1.108
1962 134 525 69 151 38 5 25 80 274 18 0 3 51 7 5 61 14 .288(5) .354 .522 .876
1963 134 478 99 163 28 6 37 112 314 16 0 10 86 18 3 30 14 .341(1) .437 .657 1.094
1964 133 459 81 144 19 6 31 90 268 13 0 6 96 15 5 34 8 .314(4) .433 .584 1.017
1965 131 503 70 151 23 5 17 80 235 2 0 5 50 12 2 42 16 .300(5) .363 .467 .830
1966 128 474 83 163 31 3 26 105 278 14 0 8 58 14 3 39 17 .344(1) .413 .586 .999
1967 122 474 65 134 25 3 19 77 222 2 0 3 37 4 1 37 24 .283(12) .334 .468 .802
1968 131 494 80 157 21 4 39 125 303 8 1 5 66 12 3 74 19 .318(2) .398 .613 1.011
1969 126 502 71 156 23 2 32 115 279 1 0 4 38 1 2 58 5 .311(3) .359 .556 .915
1970 127 476 56 128 22 2 22 105 220 1 0 9 40 1 0 52 15 .269(10) .320 .462 .782
1971 130 485 84 155 21 2 34 86 282 4 0 1 59 8 2 45 20 .320(1) .395 .581 .976
1972 125 448 64 119 17 0 27 92 217 3 0 8 63 11 1 34 23 .266(21) .352 .484 .836
1973 127 483 60 130 14 0 20 76 204 3 1 8 37 3 1 35 20 .269(13) .318 .422 .740
1974 128 442 56 108 16 1 15 55 171 2 1 4 24 0 5 33 18 .244(24) .288 .387 .675
Total 2186 8094 1270 2471 418 74 444 1522 4369 190 5 90 969 205 43 729 257 .305 .379 .540 .919

Notes

  1. ^ Hiragana Times, "'Mr. Baseball' - The Legendary Uniform #3", Volume #294, April 2011, pp. 26-29.
  2. ^ Hiragana Times, "'Mr. Baseball' - The Legendary Uniform #3", Volume #294, April 2011, pp. 26-29.
  3. ^ http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%9E%9C%E3%81%A6%E3%81%97%E3%81%AA%E3%81%84%E5%A4%A2%E3%82%92

External links

Awards
Preceded by
Motoshi Fujita
Central League Rookie of the Year
1958
Succeeded by
Takeshi Kuwata
Preceded by
Noboru Akiyama
Minoru Murayama
Sadaharu Oh
Sadaharu Oh
Sadaharu Oh
Central League MVP
1961
1963
1966
1968
1971
Succeeded by
Minoru Murayama
Sadaharu Oh
Sadaharu Oh
Sadaharu Oh
Tsuneo Horiuchi
Preceded by
Taihō Kōki
Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize
1971
Succeeded by
Katsuaki Matsumoto
Preceded by
Katsuya Nomura
Matsutaro Shoriki Award
1994
Succeeded by
Ichiro Suzuki
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Tetsuharu Kawakami
Motoshi Fujita
Yomiuri Giants manager
1975–1980
1993–2001
Succeeded by
Motoshi Fujita
Tatsunori Hara

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