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Katsuo Osugi

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Katsuo Osugi

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 193 lb.

Katsuo Osugi was a five-time Best Nine pick who was named to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. He was the first player in Nippon Pro Baseball to have 1,000 hits in both the Central League and Pacific League.

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[edit] Early life

Osugi quit baseball for a period during high school after internal bleeding in his brain after being hit by a pitch, followed closely by the death of his father and brother. He returned to play in the industrial leagues for Marui Department Stores. When that club folded, his manager worked out a try-out for Osugi with the Toei Flyers. They signed him after the workout.

[edit] Pacific League

Osugi debuted with Toei in 1965, showing little promise with a .192/.232/.288 batting line. A year later, he improved to .269/.308/.441 as a pinch-hitter and backup first baseman behind Norm Larker.

In 1967, he became a starter and batted .291/.359/.511 with 27 homers. He led the Pacific League in strikeouts (107) and plate appearances (552). He was sixth in the PL in batting average. Osugi also made the first of 8 All-Star teams and hit a grand slam in the third All-Star game that year, taking Yutaka Enatsu deep. He made the Best Nine in the PL at first base.

Osugi slumped in 1968 with a .239/.318/.494 with 34 home runs and 89 RBI. He was four home runs behind leader Katsuya Nomura, though his 106 whiffs paced the circuit. Late in the year, he began a consecutive games played streak that would last seven years. In 1969, the 24-year-old hit .285/.349/.556 with 36 HR and 99 RBI. He made his second All-Star team. He hit a PL-record three sayonara home runs in a year and homered in five straight games. Osugi was just two RBI behind league leader Atsushi Nagaike and was five home runs behind Osugi. He made his second Best Nine.

Osugi produced at a .339/.388/.671 clip, making huge strides in 1970. He finished second to Isao Harimoto in average to deny him a Triple Crown as he led in home runs (44) and RBI (129), both career highs. He also set a NPB record for sacrifice flies (15) and led the league in total bases (330), slugging percentage and double plays ground into (18). He also decked Carl Boles following a collision in a game on April 28; he was not ejected because the second-base umpire said he did not see the punch. He made his third All-Star team and Best Nine.

Not quite as productive at age 26, Osugi remained a force, hitting .315/.397/.605 with 41 home runs and 104 RBI. Surprisingly, he missed the All-Star team that year. On May 3, he was part of a record home run barrage when five straight Flyers homered - Susumu Sakudo, Tsuyoshi Oshita, Yutaka Ohashi, Isao Harimoto and finally Osugi. He led the PL in plate appearances (562), hits (154), home runs, total bases (296) and intentional walks (18). He was sixth in average and again was a Best Nine selection.

Osugi again cracked 40 homers in 1972. He batted .295/.376/.579 and led the loop in RBI (101, tied with Nomura). He also led in double plays ground into (21). He was one home run behind Nagaike, who led the league. He made his fifth and final Best Nine, his fourth All-Star team and won his only Diamond Glove Award. He was 9th in the PL in batting average. On May 6 of that year, he charged the mound with his bat after being hit by a pitch from Hiroaki Shibaike.

Osugi's production fell in 1973 as he batted .270/.350/.517 with 34 HR. In October, he tied the PL record with a six-game home run streak. He was an All-Star for the fifth time. Katsuo hit .234/.307/.408 with 22 home runs and 90 RBI in 1974 and made his sixth All-Star team. He led the PL in sacrifice flies (8).

[edit] Central League

In 1975, the veteran moved to the Yakult Swallows but only produced at a .237/.297/.365 clip, his worst since his rookie year; he hit just 13 home runs. That August, his consecutive games played streak ended at 890.

During 1976, Osugi hit .300/.358/.560 with 29 HR and 93 RBI in a comeback year. He led the Central League by grounding into 19 double plays. As Sadaharu Oh played in the Central, he had no chance at another Best Nine.

Osugi made his first Central League All-Star team in 1977. He hit .329/.382/.581 with 31 HR and 104 RBI. He was sixth in the league in batting average and led in sacrifice flies (8). In 1978, the 32-year-old slugger batted .327/.391/.556 with 30 HR and 97 RBI. It was his 8th and last 30-homer season. He hit into a league-high 27 double plays. He finished fourth in the league in average. That year, he got into a brawl with John Sipin and Yasujiro Suzuki and punched both Shigeo Nagashima and Sipin. In the 1978 Japan Series, Osugi hit .310/.355/.724 with 4 home runs, 8 runs and 10 RBI to win the MVP Award to help Yakult to its first title ever. One of the home runs was the subject of a tirade by Toshiharu Ueda, the Hankyu Braves manager, which lasted over an hour.

During 1979, Osugi hit .242/.309/.409 with 17 home runs in an off-year. In 1980, Katsuo batted .301/.339/.499 with 21 HR and 82 RBI. He was 8th in the CL in average.

Osugi produced at a .343/.391/.548 with 20 homers and made his last All-Star team in 1981. He was third in average behind Taira Fujita and Toshio Shinozuka. He reached several milestones - 2,000th game (16th player to get so far), 2,000th hit (14th) and 1,000th run (15th).

At age 37, Osugi saw a reduction in playing time (88 G, 298 AB) but still hit 17 home runs and batted .282/.327/.490 for the 1982 season. In 1983, Katsuo played his final year, hitting .261/.315/.488 with 21 HR in 322 AB. It was his 13th 20-homer season. In August, he became the 7th player in NPB history with 4,000 total bases and the 5th to 1,500 RBI.

[edit] Career Statistics

Overall, Osugi batted .287/.350/.519 in his career, with 1,080 runs, 486 home runs and 1,507 RBI in 2,235 games. He had 2,228 hits in 7,763 AB. Through 2006, he was 9th all-time in home runs (the most of anyone not in the 500-HR club, ahead of Koichi Tabuchi), 16th in hits, 8th in RBI, 23rd in runs, 11th in total bases (4,030), tied with Tsutomu Itoh for 19th in times hit by pitch (85), 8th in sacrifice flies (86), tied with Akira Eto for 24th in strikeouts (1,116), third in double plays ground into (266, behind only Katsuya Nomura and Sachio Kinugasa), tied with Kazuhiro Yamauchi for 16th in games played and tied with Kihachi Enomoto for 16th in at-bats.

[edit] Post-Playing Career

From 1984-1988, Osugi worked as a baseball commentator for Fuji Television. He was the hitting coach for the Taiyo Whales in 1990 and 1991. He died a year later of liver cancer. Five years after his death, he was voted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland



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