Hachiro Abe

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Hachiro Abe (阿部 八郎)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Hachiro Abe played from 1949 to 1951 and from 1953 to 1959. He spent most of the his career with the Hankyu Braves, though he played his final season with the Nishitetsu Lions. Until Kyle Abbott came to Japan for four games in 1996, Abe had the earliest name in the English alphabet among all NPB players. Through 2014, he retains the first English name of any Japanese native in NPB.

Abe was 2-6 with a 5.42 ERA as a rookie in 1949. On July 20, 1950, he had a no-hitter going with two outs in the 9th against the Kintetsu Pearls before Toshio Itoh singled to end it. For the year, he was 14-18 with a 3.53 ERA. He tied for 10th in the Pacific League in wins, was 5th in losses, was third with 53 games pitched (behind Yasuo Yonekawa and Yoshio Tenbo), ranked second with four shutouts (one behind Giichi Hayashi), was 4th in IP (278, between Mitsuro Sawafuji and Atsushi Aramaki), was 7th in hits allowed (251), allowed the 5th-most runs (130, between Kozo Goi and Shigeaki Kuroo), walked the most batters (104, two more than Tenbo) and was 4th in strikeouts (156, between Hayashi and Aramaki). He also hit .210/.210/.336 with very good power numbers for a pitcher (4 2B, 3B, HR, 17 RBI in 119 AB).

In 1951, the lefty improved to 12-14, 2.79. He tied for 7th in the PL in wins, was third in losses (trailing Sawafuji and Fumio Takechi), tied Yonekawa and Nobuo Nakatani for third in pitching appearances (40), completed the 5th-most games (14, between Haruyasu Eto and Sawafuji), pitched 254 2/3 IP (4th, between Hayashi and Takechi), surrendered the most runs (102, 8 more than Yonekawa), was second with 232 hits allowed (12 behind Yonekawa), again led in walks (100, 22 more than runner-up Takeo Hattori) and also led in whiffs this time (150, 15 more than Yonekawa).

After not playing in 1952, Hachiro was 11-4 with a career-best 1.88 ERA in 1953. He pitched 148 1/3 IP, not enough to qualify for the ERA title, or he would have beaten out Tokuji Kawasaki for the lead. He batted .333/.346/.412 as well. In 1954, the Fukushima native had a 5-5, 3.30 record and slugged .442.

Abe was 15-11 with a 2.20 ERA in 1955, tying for 10th with 10 complete games and finishing 4th in ERA (behind Takashi Nakagawa, Yoshinobu Uemura and Taisei Nakamura). His record in 1956 was 14-12, 2.49 and he just missed the top 10 in ERA (.06 behind #10 Takechi). He faded to 6-8, 3.08 in 1957, tying for 8th with 7 complete games and tying Yoshihiko Taki and Tetsuya Yoneda for 5th with four shutouts. He had a 6-8, 2.95 record in 1958; his control was much sharper as he walked only 18 in 82 1/3 IP. Moving to Nishitetsu, he pitched 28 games (mainly in relief) in 1959 (0-1, 4.05).

He went 86-88 with a 2.98 ERA in 338 games (205 starts) in his career. Through 2011, he was still tied for 94th in career shutouts (17) and tied for 74th in balks (5). He also hit .227/.237/.314 with six home runs and 52 RBI in 555 at-bats.