Masatoshi Gondo (権藤 正利)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 10", Weight 132 lb.
- High School Yanagawa Shogyo High School
Masatoshi Gondo pitched for 21 seasons, making three All-Star teams.
Gondo had polio as a childhood and was paralyzed on his left side. Gondo overcame the illness and wound up as a left-handed hurler. He also cut his index finger with a knife as a child. This left his finger permanently crooked, which gave his curveball an unusual movement. He made his pro baseball debut with the Taiyo Whales in 1953 and had a good year (15-12, 2.77, .222 opponent average, albeit with 105 walks in 220 2/3 IP). He also hit .233/.233/.260. He was 10th in the Central League in ERA, 10th in wins, tied for 7th in complete games (13, even with Shigeru Sugishita and Hideo Fujimoto), innings (8th, between Yoshio Bizen and Yoshiaki Inoue), walks (2nd, 30 behind Masaichi Kaneda, who pitched over 80 more innings), strikeouts (170, 3rd after Kaneda and Takumi Otomo), hit batsmen (11, 3rd, one behind Inoue and Hiroyoshi Takano), balks (3, 1st) and wild pitches (6, 1st). He was named the CL Rookie of the Year.
In 1954, Gondo had a 11-20, 2.84 record, striking out 222 and walking 143 in 263 1/3 IP. In the 1954 NPB All-Star Game 2, he relieved Takehiko Bessho one batter into the first inning and pitched 3 innings (two hits, one walk, one run and four strikeouts) before Noboru Matsuyama relieved him; the CL lost 2-1 in 10 innings to the Pacific League. For the season, he was among the CL leaders in ERA (7th, between Kaneda and Matsuyama), wins (tied for 9th), losses (2nd, 3 behind Kaneda), games pitched (38, 10th), complete games (23, tied for 4th with Bessho), IP (7th, between Katsuhiko Ishikawa and Matsuyama), runs allowed (103, 2nd, 25 behind Kaneda), earned runs (83, 2nd, 18 behind Kaneda), walks (143, 1st by 29 over Kaneda), strikeouts (3rd behind Sugishita and Kaneda) and wild pitches (9, tied for first with Akira Takahashi).
Gondo then ran into a rough skid, starting with a 3-21, 3.73 record in 1955, walking 103 in 198 IP. He dropped his last 8 decisions. His team gave him little support as they were 31-99. He led the CL in losses (one more than Kaneda), was 9th with 40 pitching appearances (between Otomo and Mitsuo Osaki), tied Shozo Watanabe and Matsuyama for 10th in complete games (9), was second in runs allowed (101, 5 shy of Bizen despite not making the top 10 in IP), tied Bizen for the most earned runs (82), led in walks (two more than Kaneda), ranked 6th in whiffs (161, between Otomo and Bessho), tied Osaki for 4th with 7 hit batsmen and led in wild pitches again (9, 4 ahead of Yasushi Kodama).
His woes continued in 1956 as he set a CL record with 13 consecutive losses in one season, going winless that year. He had a 4.06 ERA and 51 walks in 95 1/3 IP. Despite his lower work load, he still tied for 9th in the CL in defeats. The losses continued into 1957, when he dropped his first seven decisions for a 0-28 run, one more than Anthony Young would reach when he set a new MLB record in the 1990s. Gondo also tied a CL record when he hit four batters in one game in September. After his 0-7 start in '57, he righted the ship and went 12-10 the remainder of the year. For the year, he had a 12-17, 2.73 record. He allowed only a .203 opponent average, struck out 184 in 217 1/3 IP and walked 103. He was on the CL leaderboard in losses (tied for 4th with Masaaki Koyama), shutouts (5, tied for 3rd with Kaneda, Koyama and Osaki), runs allowed (93, tied for 4th with Zenjiro Tadokoro), earned runs (66, tied for 6th with Toshitake Nakayama and Koyama), walks (2nd, 13 behind Noboru Akiyama), strikeouts (5th, between Koyama and Ryohei Hasegawa) and hit batsmen (9, tied for first with Koyama).
Gondo was 3-11 with a 3.20 ERA in 1958 and only pitched 3 games in 1959 (0-1, 10.64 in 3 G). He had an amazing comeback season in 1960 (12-5, 1.42, .200 opponent average). He would have won the CL ERA title had he qualified (his 158 IP were not enough), by .33 over Akiyama). His four shutouts tied Akiyama and Kaneda for third, behind Gentaro Shimada and Koyama. He got his 1,000th strikeout, the 20th NPB hurler to do so. As Taiyo won its only CL title, Gondo got to play in his lone Japan Series. He relieved Shimada in a game 2 win over the Daimai Orions and then won game 3 after replacing Akiyama. His stats for the Series weren't very good (4 BB, 2 R in 1 2/3 IP) while his staff mates had a 1.30 ERA, led by Shimada and Akiyama.
Gondo was mostly a reliever in 1961, going 5-6 with a 3.24 ERA in 51 games (two starts). He tied Koyama and Minoru Nakamura for 4th with 5 wild pitches and tied for 8th in games pitched (even with Yoshiaki Ito, Yasuhiko Kawamura, Shimada and Takashi Suzuki). The veteran southpaw was 8-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 68 games (18 starts) in 1962, fanning 180 in 195 2/3 IP. He was second in games pitched (four behind Akiyama), 7th in strikeouts (between Akiyama and Kunio Jonouchi), 5th in walks (72, between Makoto Inagawa and another Gondo, Hiroshi Gondo), tied for 7th with 7 hit batsmen and led with nine wild pitches (three ahead of Kawamura). In the second 1962 NPB All-Star Game, he made his first All-Star appearance in eight years. Relieving Koyama with one out in the third inning, he tossed 2 1/3 shutout innings (2 H, 1 BB, 1 K) before Akiyama relieved him; the CL lost 5-4. He was also retired at the plate by Takao Kajimoto.
The Saga native fell to 1-3, 4.44 with a .335 opponent average and 1.89 WHIP in 1963. He was 1-1 with a 2.27 ERA in 25 games (4 starts) in 1964. During 1965, he moved to the Hanshin Tigers and had a 7-6, 2.03 record with a .208 opponent average and 1.01 WHIP; not as wild as in his youth, he walked 35 in 124 IP. Had he qualified, he would have ranked 4th in ERA. He was 4-11 with a 2.25 ERA, .215 average against and 1.05 WHIP in 1966. He was 6th in ERA (between Kentaro Ogawa and Kiyotake Suzuki).
Gondo was 9-6 with a 1.40 ERA, .194 opponent average and 0.93 WHIP in a stellar 1967. Though his inning total was lower than his 1.42 ERA season 7 years prior, the ERA qualifiers had changed, so he won the ERA title this time by .74 over Tomoo Wakao. He went 5-4 with a 2.77 ERA and only 28 walks in 104 IP in 1968; had he qualified, he would have been 8th in ERA. He made his final All-Star team. In the third 1968 NPB All-Star Game, he relieved Yoshiro Sotokoba in the 6th and allowed two runs in one inning before Yutaka Enatsu relieved him. The CL lost in extra innings. Also that year, he figured in a prominent fracas. He relieved Gene Bacque after a major fight when Bacque threw inside to Sadaharu Oh. Gondo promptly plunked Oh, restarting the melee.
Masatoshi was 10-4 with a 2.71 ERA in 1969, just his fifth season with double-digit wins. He got his 100th career win that season. He was 6-3 with a 2.44 ERA in 1970, 3-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 1971, 2-0 with a 2.68 ERA in 30 games in 1972 and 0-1 with a 3.30 ERA in 25 outings in 1973.
He finished his NPB career with a 117-154, 2.78 record in 719 games (263 starts). He allowed a .228 opponent average and struck out 1,943 in 2,513 IP while walking 1,019. Through 2011, he was 10th in NPB history in games pitched (between Hitoki Iwase and Yutaka Ono), 86th in complete games (84, between Atsushi Aramaki and Satoru Komiyama), tied for 71st in shutouts (20, even with Eiji Sawamura and Hisao Niura), tied for 8th in wins (with Komiyama and Taigen Kaku), 22nd in losses, tied for 59th in ties (13), 44th in innings pitched (between Masayuki Dobashi and Hiromi Makihara), 43rd in batters faced (10,429, between Shinichi Yamauchi and Fujimoto), 46th in opponent at-bats (9,075, between Yoshio Tenpo and Osamu Nomura), 25th in strikeouts (between Victor Starffin and Bessho), 38th in hit batsmen (79), 18th in walks (between Kazuhisa Kawaguchi and Kazumi Takahashi), tied for 66th in intentional walks (42), 61st in hits allowed (2,071, between Yasuo Yonekawa and Norihiro Mizutani), tied for 11th with Hiroyuki Kobayashi in wild pitches (70), tied for 16th in balks (10), 53rd in runs allowed (982, between Shigeyuki Takahashi and Hajime Kato), tied for 70th in earned runs allowed (775, even with Naoyuki Shimizu and Sotokoba), 83rd in strikeout rate (between Makoto Kurata and Shoichi Ono) and 81st in ERA (between Masaaki Saito and Toshihide Hatafuku).
He was known for his ferocious practice regimen, but was different off the field. Enatsu said "I've never seen him get angry or yell at anyone."
After baseball, he ran a liquor store but it went bankrupt after 13 years.