Jiro Kanayama

From BR Bullpen

Jiro Kanayama (金山 次郎)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 6", Weight 136 lbs.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Jiro Kanayama played in the Nippon Pro Baseball for 14 years and led the league in steals for three times.

Kanayama was signed by the Nagoya club in 1943, and soon became the everyday shortstop. He only hit .190/.234/.221 in his rookie year, then improved to .244/.331/.351 with a league-leading 3 homers in 1944 (it was a very low-offense era). After the World War II, he extended his solid batting and recorded a .281/.347/.359 batting line in 1946 and .243/.304/.319 in 1947.

When Masashi Akamine left Nagoya, he brought many star players such as Kanayama, Masaaki Noguchi and Makoto Kozuru to the newly-founded Kyuei Flyers. Kanayama hit .235/.277/.278 in 1948, but slumped to .210/.240/.270 in 1949. The Japanese Professional Baseball League split into two leagues in 1950, and Kanayama jumped to the Shochiku Robins of the Central League with his teammates Kozuru and Isao Mimura.

The Fukuoka native broke out in 1950, hitting .311/.360/.424 with 7 homers and 74 steals. He set the CL swipes record (as it was the league's first year), and he would hold it until Tadashi Matsumoto broke it 33 year later. Kanayama became the first player to both lead the league in homers and steals in his career (only Koji Akiyama and Tetsuto Yamada have also done it going into 2023). He also ranked 8th in batting (.049 behind Fumio Fujimura) and 4th in hits (6 behind Fujimura). In the first Nippon Series - the 1950 Nippon Series, Kanayama went 7-for-26 and the Robins was beaten by the Mainichi Orions in 6 games.

Kanayama was selected into the first NPB All-Star Game - the 1951 NPB All-Star Game; he went 0-for-1 with a run. He ended up batting .268/.323/.345 with 42 steals and ranked 2nd in steals (10 behind Goro Tsuchiya) in 1951. He took back the stolen base leader title with 63 in 1952, but his batting slumped to .238/.276/.315. After this season, he jumped to the Hiroshima Carp with Kozuru and Hiroshi Katayama because of an invitation from manager Shuichi Ishimoto.

After changing teams, Kanayama was still productive between the bags. He hit .236/.316/.318 with 58 swipes in 1953, and became the only player in NPB history to win back-to-back steal leader titles while playing for two different teams. The speedy shortstop stole 33 bases with a .225/.286/.323 in 1954, then became the first player to collected 400 steals, reaching the mark on August 7, 1955. He hit .241/.275/.332 with 41 steals in that season, and ranked 2nd in swipes (1 behind Itsuro Honda). Kanayama struggled in 1955, only hit .204/.245/.234 with 18 steals. He couldn't improve his performance in 1956 as his batting line was .201/.261/.257, and he announced his retirement after the 1956 season. He worked as the defense and base running coach for the Carp after retiring, holding that job from 1957 to 1961.

Overall, Kanayama had hit .243/.296/.318 with 456 steals and 1,281 hits in 14 seasons in NPB. Through 2023, he still ranks 6th in stolen bases in NPB, between Yoshihiko Takahashi and Daijiro Ohishi, 609 behind Yutaka Fukumoto.

Related Sites[edit]