Masaru Kageura

From BR Bullpen

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Masaru Kageura (also known as Masashi Kageura)

Masaru Kageura was arguably the greatest two-way player in Nippon Pro Baseball history. An outfielder, corner infielder and pitcher, he debuted by going .328/.409/.500 in the spring 1936 season of the Japanese Professional Baseball League. In the fall season he went 6-0 on the mound with a league-leading 0.79 ERA, though he hit only .248/.361/.354 that year.

In the 1937 spring season Kageura hit .289/.440/.447, was fourth in average, possibly second in slugging and possibly third in OBP. He led the league with 47 RBI, went 11-5 on the mound and had a 0.93 ERA. That fall he had a 1.41 ERA, won four of five decisions and hit .333/.515/.542, leading the league in both average and slugging and very likely in OBP as well. His ERA would have led the league in addition, but he was not among the qualifiers.

The 1938 spring season saw Kageura hit .283/.390/.458 and win both of his decisions. He led the league in RBI again, this time with 31. He was 2-1 in the fall season with a 0.56 ERA (but a 5.04 RA); at the plate his record was .263/.376/.343. He also scored in 13 consecutive games that year.

In 1939 Kageura finished his pitching career (2-2, 4.50) and at the plate was .258/.347/.393. Drafted that year, he served in the Japanese military for several years. Returning to baseball in 1943, he hit .216/.370/.311 before getting called back up. Deployed in the Philippines, he was killed in combat in 1945.

Kageura was elected posthumously to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965; he is one of two players (Eiji Sawamura is the other) who was enshrined as a Hall of Famer after being killed in World War II.

Brother of Kenichi Kageura

Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland