Kenjiro Tamiya

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Kenjiro Tamiya

Biographical Information[edit]

Kenjiro Tamiya won a Tokyo Metropolitan University League batting title in 1947 before dropping out of college. He joined the Hanshin Tigers in 1949 as a pitcher and went 11-7 with a 4.56 ERA. on March 16, 1950, he came within one out of pitching a perfect game - it would have been the first perfecto in Nippon Pro Baseball history - Sakae Nakamura got the hit; he was just 1-2 with a 6.46 ERA for the year. He allowed 20 hits and 9 runs in 1951, going 0-1. He was 0-2 with a 4.85 ERA in 1952 and finished overall with a 12-12, 4.85 record as a hurler.

By 1952, a shoulder injury caused him to become an outfielder. He hit .247/.335/.421 with 7 homers in 190 AB for the Tigers that year. In 1953, Kenjiro batted .233/.326/.312 and stole 14 bases in 17 tries. He led the Central League with nine times hit by pitch. He hit .300/.353/.450 in 1954 with 30 steals in 32 tries. He finished 8th in the CL in swipes and again led in times plunked with 9.

Tamiya fell to .288/.336/.384 in 1955 and was worse on the basepaths (21 SB, 14 CS). He led the league with 11 times hit by pitch and made his first All-Star team. He was 6th in the loop in average between Wally Yonamine and Makoto Kozuru.

Kenjiro batted .300/.364/.498 with 33 doubles, 12 triples and 25 steals in 39 tries in 1956 and again was an All-Star. He led the CL in doubles, total bases (226) and slugging (.011 over Yonamine). He was third in average behind Yonamine and Tetsuharu Kawakami. He was one triple behind leader Jun Hakota. He made his first Best Nine, joining Yonamine and Noboru Aota as the outfielders in the CL.

In 1957, the man from Ibaraki hit .308/.380/.500 to finish second in average (behind Yonamine) and first in slugging (.007 over Yonamine). He stole 37 bases in 42 tries and led the loop with eight triples. He was three swipes behind leader Tokuji Iida. He made his third All-Star team and second Best Nine (alongside Aoto and Yonamine again). Tamiya hit .320/.416/.537 in 1958 with 33 doubles and 9 triples. He was hit by a CL-high 6 pitches and led the league with 20 intentional walks. He paced the CL in both average and triples and was one double shy of leader Shigeo Nagashima. Tamiya was an All-Star and Best Nine pick (joining Yonamine and Toru Mori in the outfield).

In 1959, Tamiya joined the Daimai Orions a year after earning a batting title. He hit .286/.357/.421 with 32 doubles and 21 steals in 28 tries. He tied Kazuhiro Yamauchi for the Pacific League lead in two-baggers and times hit by pitch (12).

Tamiya produced at a .317/.401/.489 with 28 doubles and nine triples in 1960. He led the PL in times plunked (12). He finished second in the PL in average behind Kihachi Enomoto. He was an All-Star and joined Kazuhiro Yamauchi and Isao Harimoto as the Best Nine outfielders in that circuit.

In 1961, the veteran had a batting line of .328/.382/.466 with 35 doubles, 83 runs and 71 RBI. He was third in average behind Harimoto and Enomoto and made his last Best Nine, again picked alongside Harimoto and Yamauchi. He also made his sixth All-Star team.

An All-Star for the last time in 1962, Tamiya batted .308/.363/.421 and was 10th in the league in average. He faded to .278/.333/.392 in 1963 and retired.

During his career, Tamiya amassed 1,427 hits and a .297 batting average (.364 OBP, .445 slugging). He stole 190 bases in 251 tries. He was selected for seven All-Star teams and five Best Nine squads. Through 2009, he is one of only six men in Nippon Pro Baseball annals to hit 100 home runs and win a game as a pitcher.

In 1969, Tamiya became a hitting coach for the Chunichi Dragons. From 1970 to 1972, Tamiya managed the Toei Flyers and he stayed with the team as it became the Nittaku Home Flyers in 1973. He was 155-209-21 as the club's skipper. Tamiya managed the Wei Chuan Dragons in Taiwan's CPBL in 1995 and 1996, going 83-104-3.

In 1981, a junior high school baseball tournament was initiated that was named after Tamiya. He served on the city council in his hometown of Shimodate. Tamiya was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 and died due to a stroke eight years later.

Primary Source: japanbaseballdaily.com