Bill Nishita

From BR Bullpen

William Nishita (also known as Toru Nishida)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 156 lb.

Bill Nishita was a pitcher in Japan and the USA. He reached AAA, almost becoming the first Asian-American in the majors.

Nishita was recruited by University of California coach Clint Evans in 1949 when Evans saw him pitch in Hawaii. As Nishita did not qualify academically, he enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College. He went 14-1 for them and led them to a title. He then transferred to California, where he did well. Some US teams expressed interest, but he was lured to Japan by Yomiuri Giants scout Cappy Harada, who offered him a two-year deal for $10,000 per year, a record for Nippon Pro Baseball at the time. A nisei, he was one of the first American players in Japan after World War II, debuting one year after Wally Yonamine. He made his professional baseball debut in 1952, going 3-1 with a 3.20 ERA for Yomiuri while battling a sore arm. He had the highest ERA among Yomiuri hurlers with 50 or more innings pitched.

Nishita went back to the US when he was called up to military service and missed the next two seasons. In 1955, he returned to Japan and went 1-2 with a 2.08 ERA. He then moved to the US minor leagues, going 4-6 with a 4.65 ERA for the '56 Montreal Royals and 4-3, 3.13 with the Fort Worth Cats.

In 1957, the right-hander went 6-4 with a 3.69 for Fort Worth in 43 appearances, 41 of them out of the bullpen. He completed both of his starts and hit .346~/.393/.385 in 26 AB. He allowed no runs in three games for the St. Paul Saints. Returning to Japan again in [[1958 in Japanese Baseball|1958, he went 16-19 for the Toei Flyers with a 2.39 ERA, 8th in the Pacific League and making the All-Star team.

In 1960, Nishita went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 9 games for the Daimai Orions, then was 9-6, 3.35 with them the next year. He was 0-1 with a 10.69 for the '62 Hawaii Islanders but met Gene Bacque and talked him into playing in Japan, leaving a major influence on the Japanese game by doing so. In 1963, he finished his career with a 1-6, 2.57 year for the Kokutetsu Swallows.

Overall, in Nippon Pro Baseball, Bill went 31-34 with a 2.66 ERA. In the US minors, he went 14-14, playing only at AA and AAA.

Sources: Remembering Japanese Baseball by Rob Fitts, Japanbaseballdaily.com, 1958 Baseball Guide, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database, Honolulu Advertiser & Star-Bulletin obituary, Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball by Rob Fitts