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Hiroaki Fukushi

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Hiroaki Fukushi

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 200 lb.

Known as Hiroaki Fukushi in Japan and Myeong-bu Chang in South Korea, the man born as Akio Matsubara was a three-time All-Star in his country of birth and in the Korea Baseball Organization as well. He holds the KBO single-season records for most wins and most losses.

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[edit] 1970-1972: Yomiuri

Undrafted out of high school, Matsubara was signed by the Yomiuri Giants. He was 0-3 with a 3.07 ERA for them in 1970 and saw limited action the next two seasons, getting no decisions. He was then traded to the Nankai Hawks with Shinichi Yamauchi for Masaru Tomita.

[edit] 1973-1976: Nankai

Katsuya Nomura put Fukushi into the rotation, where he was a mainstay for several years. He was known for his shuuto and pitching inside. He was 7-7 with a 2.87 ERA in 1973, 8th in the Pacific League in ERA. He was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in the 1973 Japan Series, walking 4 in five innings and taking the loss against his old team as the Giants won their 9th straight title.

Matsubara had a 9-6, 3.04 ERA in 1974. He tied Koichi Nakayama for 8th in the PL in ERA. In 1975, Akio's record was 11-12, 3.00. His four shutouts tied Takashi Yamaguchi, Osamu Higashio and Shinichi Yamauchi for the Pacific League lead. The right-hander went 6-7 with one save and a 3.68 ERA during 1976. He then switched to the Hiroshima Carp.

[edit] 1977-1982: Hiroshima

In 1977, the 28-year-old went 6-6 with 5 saves and a 5.13 ERA in 46 games, moved to bullpen. For the 1978 Carp, he was 15-8 with a 3.60 ERA, 9th in the Central League. He tied Akio Saito and Osamu Nomura for the CL lead in complete games (12). He also allowed 236 hits, most in the league. He made his first All-Star team.

Fukushi had a similar ERA in 1979 (3.57, 8th in the league) but only had a 7-9 record (with one save) for the CL champions. He was 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA during the 1979 Japan Series, going the distance for a game four victory as Hiroshima won the first title in their 30-year history.

Hiroaki followed up in 1980 by going 15-6 with a 3.95 ERA. He was 1-0 with a 2.41 ERA in the 1980 Japan Series, winning game six to keep Hiroshima's hopes alive; they wound up repeating. He made his second CL All-Star team that year.

In 1981, Fukushi was 12-9 with a 4.03 ERA. He made his third All-Star team but wound up leading the CL in walks (76), runs allowed (99) and earned runs allowed (90). He fell to 3-13, 4.46 with one save in 1982 and was released.

Fukushi's career record in Nippon Pro Baseball was 91-84 with 9 saves and a 3.68 ERA in 339 games.

[edit] 1983-1986: KBO

Fukushi/Chang signed with the Sammi Superstars of the Korea Baseball Organization. He had a workhorse year in 1983, pitching in 60 games with 36 complete games (5 shutouts) and working 427 1/3 IP. He faced 1,712 batters, allowed 388 hits, walked 106, struck out 220 and had a 2.34 ERA. He won 30, lost 16 and saved six. He led the league in wins, setting the all-time record, and in strikeouts. He lost the ERA title by .01 over Ki-ryong Ha. He threw 192 2/3 IP more than runner-up Ho-kyun Lim and allowed 155 more hits than runner-up Lim. He reputedly earned 10 million won per endorsement and gave lots of money to charity as a result. His arm took the toll of the heavy workload, though, and he would never be as productive again.

Chang fell to 13-20 with 7 saves and a 3.30 ERA in 45 games in 1984. In 1985, Chang pitched for Sammi and their successor, the Chungbo Pintos. He won just 11 and saved 5 against 25 defeats, the all-time KBO record. He allowed 304 hits and walked 100 in 246 innings while his ERA rose to 5.30.

In 1986, the 35-year-old veteran posted a miserable 1-18, 4.98 record for the Binggrae Eagles. He finished his KBO career with a 55-79 record, 18 saves and a 3.55 ERA in 172 games. Overall in his professional career, Matsubara/Fukuchi/Chang went 146-163.

[edit] Post-playing career and life

After his playing career ended, Chang was the pitching for the Samsung Lions in 1988. He was arrested for possession of amphetamines while in Seoul and lost his job as a result. He avoided jail time.

Returning to Japan after his criminal record in Korea, he worked for a real estate company and a construction company. He moved from Osaka to Wakayama to be close to his sick mother and opened a mah jong parlor in late March of 2005. He devoted a lot of time and energy to this new business and died a couple weeks later, found on a couch at the parlor.

Fukushi had three sons, one of them a sumo wrestler.

Sources: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland, Korean wikipedia entry

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