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Soroku Yagisawa

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Soroku Yagisawa

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 8", Weight 165 lb.

Soroku Yagisawa went 71-66 in 13 years pitching in Nippon Pro Baseball and threw a perfect game. He later became a coach, manager for the Chiba Lotte Marines and commentator.

Yagisawa was the son of the mayor of Imaichi. In high school, he helped his high school win the 1962 summer Koshien, the only title the school has won as of 2006. He starred in college with a 24-12 record and set two Tokyo Big Six University League records, with 56 consecutive innings without a walk or hit batter and nine career walkless complete games.

In 1966, Soroku was a first-round draft pick of the Tokyo Orions and he threw one inning for the team in 1967. The next season, Yagisawa was 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 6 games for the Orions. His control was surprisingly poor, as he hit three batters and walked six in 19 1/3 IP. In 1969, Yagisawa went 3-2 with a 3.60 ERA in 44 games (90 IP).

At age 25, Soroku improved to 5-4, 2.85 in 98 1/3 games (43 games). He pitched twice in the 1970 Japan Series, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings but allowing three baserunners. The Orions fell in five. In 1971, the right-hander had a 4-1, 4.62 line in 23 games. He continued to disappoint with a 7-8, 4.50 record in 35 games (90 1/3 IP) in 1972.

Yagisawa improved significantly in 1973. He won 7 of 8 decisions in 55 games (130 1/3 IP). On October 10, he threw a perfect game against the Taiheiyo Club Lions, the 13th perfecto in NPB history. He walked only 25 batters during the season.

In 1974, Soroku had a 8-7, 3.83 record with two saves and 27 walks in 115 IP (35 games). In the first Japan Series won by a Pacific League team in a decade, Yagisawa gave up two runs in two innings of relief in the 1974 Japan Series.

Yagisawa posted a 2-5, 3.81 record in 20 appearances in 1975, then had a fine comeback season in 1976 in Japanese Baseball. In 1976, he was 15-9 with one save and a 2.46 ERA and walked only 29 in 171 2/3 IP. He finished sixth in the Pacific League in ERA.

He remained sharp in 1977, with a 2.62 ERA and 32 walks in 175 IP, but only had a 11-14 record with one save. He moved up a spot on the ERA leaderboard, to 5th. He failed to make the PL All-Star team in both 1976 and 1977.

Yagisawa faded a bit in 1978; the 33-year-old had a 5-6, 3.23 line with 3 saves and 23 BB in 120 1/3 IP. In his final season of 1979, the veteran went 4-8 with one save and a 4.86 ERA. Two months into the season, he broke Charlie Manuel's jaw and nose with a 90-mph fastball. Manuel had been leading the league in homers and felt that the pitch was intentional as Yagisawa was noted for his control (he hit 42 batters and walked 267 in 1,200 career IP). Yagisawa vehemently claimed that it was an accident. Manuel said that Soroku grinned and tipped his cap when Manuel said "I'll get you" while leaving the field.

After his playing career ended, Soroku coached with the Seibu Lions and Yokohama BayStars and was a baseball commentator for Fuji-TV. He also served as a Hanshin Tigers coach. He managed the Chiba Lotte Marines for three years. The club finished last his first year, 1992, going 54-74-2. They improved one spot to fifth in 1993 despite a worse record (51-77-2). In 1994, the Marines started off 34-51 and were in fifth when Yagisawa was fired on July 31. Futoshi Nakanishi took over the helm and Chiba Lotte finished fifth.

Sources: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland, You Gotta Have Wa by Robert Whiting

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