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Tatsuro Hirooka

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Tatsuro Hirooka

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Tatsuro Hirooka was signed by the Yomiuri Giants in 1954. Hirooka reached the Giants that same year. He batted .314/.409/.513 with 15 HR's and 67 RBI winning the 1954 Central League Rookie of the Year and was named to his only Best Nine team. He slipped to .257/.339/.407 with 11 HR's and 43 RBI in 1955. In 1956, he only played in 93 games batting .233/.290/.367 with 9 HR's and 32 RBI. Struggles continued for Hirooka in 1957, as he only played in 92 games, but did display more power batting .244/.304/.456 with 18 HR's and 33 RBI. The 1958 season saw fortunes rebound for Hirooka as he batted .277/.328/.410 with 12 HR's and 41 RBI. Though, he dispayed decent power numbers, he slumped to a .237/.314/.391 with 14 HR's and 47 RBI in 1959. In 1960, Hirooka only played in 98 games batting .223/.266/.388 with 12 HR's and 26 RBI. Hirooka's struggles continued in 1961 as he batted .203/.255/.315 with 10 HR's and 41 RBI. He struggled in 1962, batting .214/.262/.291 with 4 HR's and 33 RBI. Those stuggles would be the story of the remainder of Hirooka's career, though he would rebound to bat .241/.324/.326 with 5 HR's and 41 RBI in 1963. In 1964, he fell to .209/.273/.301 with 6 HR's and 34 RBI. In Hirooka's last full season in 1965, he batted .229/.316/.287 with 1 HR and 25 RBI. He finished his last year out in 1966, playing in 11 games, batting .129(4-31) with 0 HR and 2 RBI. Hirooka finished his career with a .240 average, 117 HR's, and 465 RBI.

Following the end of his playing career he went onto with the Hiroshima Carp and Yakult Swallows. Hirooka became the manager of the Swallows in 1976. He struggled in his first year with the Swallows going 42-53-6(.442) which was fifth place. In 1977, he improved to 62-58-10(.517) with was good for second place. During the 1978 season, Hirooka went 68-46-16(.596) and led the Swallows to a Nippon Series win. However, Hirooka slumped in 1979, going 31-45-9(.408) and was dismissed by the Swallows. He was later hired as manager of the Seibu Lions in 1982 going 68-58-4(.540), and immediately led the Lions to a Nippon Series win. Hirooka led the Lions to a second straight Pacific League pennant in 1983 going 86-40-4(.683) and led the Lions to there second straight Nippon Series win. He fell to 62-61-7(.504) in 1984 which was good for third place. Though he recovered to take the Lions back to the Nippon Series going 79-45-6(.637) in 1985. Even with all of the success Hirooka had with the Lions he was fired. He finished with a career mangerial record of 498-406-62(.551) with 3 Nippon Series wins.

He was also general manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines and was most famous for firing fan favorite manager Bobby Valentine after the 1995 season, which caused a lot of backlash from Marines fans. He was elected into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.

He is the brother of former Hiroshima Carp infielder Tomio Hirooka.

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