Hisanori Karita

From BR Bullpen


Hisanori Karita

Biographical Information[edit]

Hisanori Karita is a member of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, a figure from the earliest days of Japanese pro baseball. He was noted for his smooth turning of the double play at second base.

Karita was part of the Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig tour of Japan in 1934; in one game, he joined Ruth's team, playing alongside Ruth, Jimmie Foxx and Earl Averill. When the Japanese Professional Baseball League was formed in 1936, Karita played for the Tokyo Senators. He hit .294/.419/.353 in the spring campaign and .248/.374/.339 in the fall. He led in the spring with 16 steals and the fall with 11 swipes. In the spring of 1937, he put up a .249/.343/.301 line and stole 15 bases, then was at .225/.315/.326 with 13 swipes in the fall. He became the Senators' player-manager in the off-season. In the spring of 1938, he batted .299/.413/.493 with 31 runs in 35 games. He led the JPBL in doubles, was 9th in average (between Masanori Yamaguchi and Shigeru Chiba) and won the MVP. He was the first Japanese position player to be named MVP, following Japanese pitcher Eiji Sawamura and American position player Harrison McGalliard. In the fall, he hit .232/.359/.338. He slumped to .218/.348/.283 in 1939, stole 27 bases, pitched six games (0-1, 4.35) and also managed the team to a 4th-place finish at 49-38-9.

Karita managed Tsubasa to a 56-39-10, 4th-place finish in 1940. He again pitched (0-1, 6.00 in 2 G) while hitting .220/.361/.319 and stealing 18 bases. He won the Best Nine at second base; it was the first year the Best Nine was given out, but it would be 7 years until the second, after which it became an annual event. Karita was down to .193/.300/.245 in 1941, .141/.231/.160 in 1942 and .169/.292/.244 in 1943, with a total of 12 steals in those three seasons. He continued as player-manager, guiding Taiyo to a 47-37-3 record in '41 and managing Yamato for the end of 1942 and the beginning of 1943.

He then went to China to serve in the Japanese military during World War II. After the war, he returned in 1947 with the Tokyu Flyers, leading them to a 51-65-3 record and 6th place. He hit .184/.319/.271 with 56 walks in 88 games. In his last year as a manager, he was 59-70-11 with the 1948 Kyuei Flyers. He was 6 for 53 with 4 walks and a homer, no longer a starter at age 38. He sat out a season then returned with the Mainichi Orions in 1950, hitting a respectable .267/.339/.382 as a part-timer. He batted .274/.348/.379 for the Kintetsu Pearls in 1951 to end his playing career with a batting line of .219/.332/.302 and 148 steals in 804 games. He was 322-342-42 as a manager.

Karita later served as an umpire and broadcaster (for NHK) before being inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.