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Kazumi Takahashi

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Kazumi Takahashi

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 171 lb.

Kazumi Takahashi became the subject of scandal while in high school, signing with the Kintetsu Buffaloes and Yomiuri Giants. His coach resigned and Takahashi was suspended by the Japan High School Baseball Federation. Kazumi later signed with Yomiuri after graduation and was a member of their team that won nine consecutive Japan Series. In his first season with the Giants, 1965, he allowed six runs in six innings. In '66, Kazumi went 6-5 with a 2.16 ERA but did not pitch in the 1966 Japan Series. In 1967, the southpaw fell to 6-7, 3.12. In game four of the 1967 Japan Series, he gave up 4 runs in 4 innings to the Hankyu Braves in a 9-5 loss but Yomiuri still took the series.

Takahashi went 7-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 1968. He started game four of the 1968 Japan Series but allowed 3 runs in 4 1/3 IP and was yanked. Kazumi became a star in 1969 at age 22/23. He was 22-5 with a 2.21 ERA that year and struck out 221, allowing 180 hits in 256 innings. He led the Central League in both wins and complete games (19) and won 15 consecutive games between May 5 and August 21. He won his first Sawamura Award and made his first Best Nine. He went 1-1 with a 2.15 ERA in the 1969 Japan Series, losing game two but winning the final, game six.

In 1970, Kazumi went 12-10 with a 2.97 ERA, though he still fanned 180 in 215 innings and made his second consecutive CL All-Star team. He started games two and five in the 1970 Japan Series and relieved in numbers 3 and 4. He took the defeat in game four, Yomiuri's only loss, then again won the finale. He was 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA that series.

1971 marked a third straight All-Star trip - and this was clearly the most notable. He pitched a hitless sixth inning as part of a no-hitter thrown against the Pacific League All-Stars. His record on the year was 14-7, 2.93. Unfortunately, he led the CL with 28 homers allowed that season. He pitched in game two and won game five in the 1971 Japan Series; for the third year in a row, he won the final game in the Japan Series (he had a 1.59 ERA in the '71 series).

In 1972, Takahashi went 12-11 with a 2.99 ERA. His 113 walks in 214 1/3 innings were the worst total in the CL and he missed the All-Star team. He went 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in the 1972 Japan Series, starting games two and five - and again picking up the win in the clincher, making it four straight years. '73 marked a return to the All-Star team in a great 23-13, 2.21 season. He walked 139 in 306 1/3 innings and struck out 238, allowing 215 hits. He led the CL in batters faced (1,247), complete games (24), shutouts (7, tied with Yutaka Enatsu), homers surrendered (32), walks and strikeouts. Enatsu edged him in innings pitched by 2/3 of an inning. He was second to Takeshi Yasuda in ERA but threw almost 100 more innings than him. Takahashi won his second Sawamura Award and made his second Best Nine. He lost game one of the 1973 Japan Series but won game four as Yomiuri took the final four in order; he went 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA as one of only three Giants pitchers who saw action in their 9th and last of their consecutive Series titles.

Kazumi was only 2-11 with a 5.13 ERA in a wretched 1974 as Yomiuri just lost the title to the Chunichi Dragons; anything better from their prior year's pitching star would have likely meant another trip to the Series. Takahashi wrapped up his Giants run in 1975 by going 6-6 with a 3.57 ERA.

In 1976, the 29-year old pitcher moved to the Nippon Ham Fighters (traded with Masaru Tomita for Isao Harimoto) and went 10-12 with three saves and a 3.38 ERA though he led the Pacific League with 18 batters plunked - it was a rarity as he only reached double-digits in HBP one other season. Takahashi made his fifth All-Star squad in 1977 and went 6-10 with four saves and a 3.66 ERA for the Fighters.

Takahashi saw limited time in 1978 and was 2-2 with a 3.75 ERA in just 48 innings of work and was 3-4 with a 5.11 ERA the next year in even less work (43 2/3 IP). In '80, the left-hander bounced back with a 9-7, 4 Sv, 3.56 campaign with only 49 walks in 177 1/3 IP for the former wild man. He made his sixth and last All-Star appearance in 1981 and had a 14-6, 2.94 pitching line in his best year with Nippon Ham. He walked 41 in 198 2/3 IP in his best control season. After eight years away, he also returned to the Japan Series and started game one in a victory against his former Yomiuri team. It was Nippon Ham's only Series appearance as of 2005 and a good start but they dropped four of the next five, including a loss by Takahashi in game five. He was 0-1 with a 4.63 ERA in that 1981 Japan Series - overall, he went 5-4 in postseason action.

In 1982, the 35-year-old veteran slipped to 7-8, 5.21 and he wrapped up his career the next season by going 6-5 with one save and a 4.01 ERA. Overall, his career pitching record was 167-132 with a 3.18 ERA, 1,007 walks and 1,997 strikeouts in 2,778 innings. Through the 2005 season, he is 18th all-time in NPB in strikeouts, 19th in walks, 18th in hit batters (110) and tied for 18th with 308 home runs allowed.

After retiring, Takahashi served as a coach with Yomiuri and then became an announcer for Radio Japan.

Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland

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