Katsumi Shiraishi

From BR Bullpen

Katsumi Shiraishi born Toshio Shiraishi

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 6", Weight 149 lb.

Katsumi Shiraishi is a member of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. He was known as an excellent defensive infielder in the years before Nippon Pro Baseball gave out a Diamond Glove Award.

Shiraishi debuted with the Tokyo Giants in the spring of 1936, the first season of professional baseball in Japan. The 18-year-old was 5 for 24 with 3 walks that spring then hit .214/.314/.252 in the fall.

Shiraishi hit .233/.308/.383 in the spring of 1937 and .228/.300/.290 in the fall. He batted .302/.375/.403 in the spring of 1938 to finish 6th in the Japanese Professional Baseball League in average but fell to .179/.269/.222 in the fall (seasons back then were around 40 games so averages fluctuated much more than when the spring and fall seasons were replaced by one season per year).

Katsumi batted .262/.403/.357 in 1939 with 82 walks and 94 runs in 95 games. He led the JPBL in both walks and runs. He produced at a .264/.391/.346 rate with 82 walks and 70 runs in 1940, finishing 7th in average. He again led in runs scored while he was one walk shy of leader Masayoshi Yoshiwara.

Shiraishi hit .267/.382/.344 for the Giants in 1941 and .236/.353/.278 in 1942 followed by a .248/.380/.282 line in 1943. He missed 1944-1945, presumably due to World War II.

Back in action in 1946, the veteran infielder hit .263/.361/.310 for Pacific. He then spent a year in Japan's industrial leagues. In 1948, he returned to the Giants, hitting only .219/.300/.278.

Shiraishi produced at a .263/.354/.417 rate with 94 runs in 130 games for the 1949 Giants. His 9 triples were two shy of leader Masaaki Hirai. When the Hiroshima Carp formed in 1950, Katsumi joined that new club and had a big year, hitting .304/.395/.482 with 92 runs, 77 walks and 20 homers at age 32. He made his only Best Nine as the top shortstop in the new Central League. He hit the first homer in Hiroshima history. On May 6, he became the second NPB player to 1,000 games. The next day, he had the first homer leading off a game in Carp annals.

The Hiroshima native fell to .288/.387/.447 in 1951 and just .220/.303/.290 in 1952. During 1953, he became a player-manager, succeeding Shuichi Ishimoto at the helm. In the field, he hit .267/.384/.387 with 78 walks that year. He made his only Central League All-Star team.

Shiraishi managed the club to 4th place at 56-69-5 in 1954 while hitting .275/.354/.396. He batted .258/.341/.413 in 1955 and had a record of 58-70-2 at the reigns. 20 years after his debut, he wrapped up as a player, going 2 for 23 with two walks in 1956 while managing Hiroshima to a 45-82-3 finish; they avoided last as the Taiyo Whales were even worse.

Hiroshima was 54-75-1 in 1957, 54-68-8 in 1958, 59-64-7 in 1959 and 62-61-7 in 1960. Despite finally topping .500, he was replaced as skipper by Masato Monzen.

Shiraishi returned to the Hiroshima managerial job in 1963 and went 58-80-2 for his first last-place finish. The club improved to 64-73-3 in 1964. During the 1965 season, he was replaced by Ryohei Hasegawa. Overall, he had gone 584-736-42 as skipper of Hiroshima. As a player, he had hit .256/.358/.355 in 1,651 games with 210 steals, 911 runs, 936 walks, 244 doubles, 58 triples, 84 homers and 571 RBI.

Satoshi Hirayama remembered Shiraishi as "very orthodox and very no-nonsense" as both a player and manager, a tough disciplinarian who always played for one run.

Shiraishi was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.

Sources: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland, Remembering Japanese Baseball by Robert Fitts