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Yutaka Ono

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Yutaka Ono

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 165 lb.

[edit] Biographical Information

Yutaka Ono pitched for the Hiroshima Carp for 22 years. He led the Central League in both shutouts and saves during his career, made 10 All-Star teams and won awards as his league's top pitcher and top reliever.

Ono played for Izumo Shinyo Kumiai in the industrial leagues. He was signed outside of the draft in 1977 and debuted for Hiroshima that year, allowing 7 baserunners and 5 runs in 1/3 of an inning, an inauspicious beginning. In 1978, the southpaw was 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA in 41 games. The next year, he went 5-5 with 2 saves and a 3.86 ERA in 58 outings, the most in the Central League. He was roughed up in the 1979 Japan Series for 4 runs in 2 1/3 IP, but Hiroshima still prevailed in 7 games.

Ono improved to 7-2, 2.70 with a save in 1980. He made his first All-Star team. He was much better in the 1980 Japan Series than in the prior one, tossing 7 shutout innings over the course of three outings. The Carp again took a Japan Series in seven games. In 1981, the 25-year-old left-hander was 8-4 with 11 saves and a 2.68 ERA and allowed only 84 hits in 111 innings. He tied Masao Sato for the most games pitched (57) in the CL.

In 1982, the Izumo native won 10, lost 7 and saved 11 while posting a 2.63 ERA. He made his second CL All-Star squad. 1983 was an off-year as he fell to 7-10, 3.51 with 9 saves. Ono was 10-5 with 2 saves and a 2.97 ERA in 1984 and earned his third All-Star selection. He was being used primarily as a starting pitcher rather than a reliever by this point. He was second to Seiji Kobayashi in ERA in the Central League. In the 1984 Japan Series, Yutaka was 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA as Hiroshima again won in 7 games.

The Carp southpaw fell to 10-7, 4.06 with 2 saves in 1985 but still finished 8th in the CL in ERA, as Japan was in the midst of an offensive boom. He was chosen for his 4th All-Star team. In 1986, Ono was 6-5 with a 2.74 ERA but only pitched 15 games, presumably due to injury. He was 1-1 with a 1.76 ERA in the 1986 Japan Series, dropping game six to the Seibu Lions as Hiroshima fell in 7. In 1987, Ono had a very good campaign, with a 13-5, 2.93 record and made his 5th All-Star squad. He was 5th in the league in ERA.

Ono improved further in his 12th season with Hiroshima, in 1988. He was 13-7 with a 1.70 ERA, the first sub-2 ERA in the Central League in 13 seasons, since Sohachi Aniya. He became the 77th man in Nippon Pro Baseball history to reach 1,000 strikeouts and made his 6th All-Star team. He easily led the league in ERA, by .46 over Hiromi Makihara. He tied Makihara for the most shutouts (4) and tied Bill Gullickson for the most complete games (14). He struck out 183 in 185 innings, four K's fewer than league leader Makihara. He won the Sawamura Award as the top pitcher in NPB but failed to make the Best Nine in the CL, surprisingly, as Kazuyuki Ono was chosen instead at pitcher.

The Hiroshima ace was 8-6 with a 1.92 ERA in 1989 and was the 100th pitcher in NPB to reach 100 wins. He allowed only four home runs in 145 2/3 IP. He finished third in ERA behind Masaaki Saito and Makihara. Ono only went 6-11 in 1990 despite a 3.17 ERA; he saved 3 games.

The southpaw became a full-time relief pitcher once more in 1991 and responded well, with a 6-2 record, 26 saves and a 1.17 ERA. He fanned 58 in 46 1/3 IP and allowed just 28 hits. He led the CL in saves, won the Fireman of the Year award and made his 7th All-Star team. He saved two games and had a 2.61 ERA in the 1991 Japan Series; for the fifth and final time in his career, he played in a Japan Series, all of which went the full 7 games. This time, the Carp lost.

The veteran pitcher was 5-3 with 26 saves and a 1.98 ERA in 1992. He struck out 77 in 59 innings, allowing 39 hits. He made the CL All-Star team and led the league in saves for the second straight year. Ono's record in 1993 was 3-1 with 23 saves and a 2.37 ERA, striking out 46 in 38 innings and giving up 26 hits only. He made his third straight All-Star team and 9th overall of his career.

In 1994, Yutaka allowed 34 hits in 48 2/3 IP, won 4, lost 2 and saved 18 while posting an ERA of 2.40. He tied for third in the CL in saves, one behind co-leaders Shingo Takatsu and Hiroshi Ishige. Turning 40 in 1995, Ono went 7-5 with 4 saves and a 3.07 ERA while pitching regularly as a starter for the first time in five years.

The left-hander had a 5-4, 3.93 record in 1996. In 1997, Ono went 9-6 with a 2.85 ERA and led the CL in ERA at age 41/42, edging out Masahiro Yamamoto for his second ERA title. He made his 10th and final All-Star team. On April 30, he shut out the Chunichi Dragons; at age 41 years, 8 months, he was the oldest CL pitcher to whitewash an opponent. Only Tadashi Wakabayashi had been older when throwing a shutout in NPB annals. Ono went 3-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 13 games in 1998 and then retired.

In 707 games for Hiroshima, Ono had a record of 148-100 with 138 saves and a 2.90 ERA. Through 2006, he was 7th in NPB history in saves, 10th in games pitched and 30th in ERA.

After retiring as a player, Ono was the pitching coach for Hiroshima for one year, then became a broadcaster for NHK. He returned to coaching with the Japanese national team, working the 2004 Olympics, 2007 Asian Championship and 2008 Olympics.

He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013 along with Yoshiro Sotokoba and Kazuo Fukushima.

Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland

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