- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 160 lbs.
- Born September 1, 1921 in Ebara, Tokyo Japan
- Died December 18, 1977
Michio Nishizawa was a star player in Nippon Professional Baseball. A five-time All-Star and three-time Best Nine selection, he is a member of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. A two-way threat, Nishizawa started his career as a hurler before becoming an accomplished slugger in the second decade of his career. Additionally, he managed the Chunichi Dragons for a spell.
He debuted with Nagoya at the age of 15 in 1936, the youngest player ever in the history of pro yakyu. He had not even gone to high school yet, only having finished junior high. Nishizawa made his debut in the fall of 1937, walking 10 in 10 2/3 IP and posting a 1.64 ERA anyways. In the spring of 1938, the pitcher was 3-4 with a 2.05 ERA, but with 35 walks in 57 2/3 IP. That fall, his line read 6-4, 3.77 and led the Japanese Professional Baseball League by allowing 10 circuit clouts.
Nishizawa suddenly became a star in 1939. The 18-year-old hurler went 20-10 with a 2.14 ERA and allowed 119 hits in 184 2/3 IP. He was about 7th in the JPBL in ERA. In 1940, Michio's pitching line read 7-9, 1.92. He walked 151 in 276 1/3 IP. The next year, he was 7-13 with a 1.58 ERA, walking 116 and allowing 146 hits in 198 1/3 IP. He was 8th in the JPBL in ERA.
In 1942, Nishizawa had two remarkable games. On May 24th of that year, Nishizama pitched a remarkable twenty-eight complete innings, totaling 311 pitches in a 4-4 tie against Taiyo at Korakuen Stadium. Later that year, he tossed his first and only no-hitter, accomplishing the feat against the Hankyu team. Overall, he was just 9-11 on the season (the rest of his team was 27-49 though) and his 1.75 ERA missed the league's top 10. He led the league with 7 hit batsmen. He fell to 5-6, 1.87 in 1943, issuing 102 walks in 159 innings. Despite being a sub-Mendoza Line hitter for his career, Nishizawa was converted to first base that year and hit .223/.259/.243, seeing partial action in the field. He would go on to stardom as a feared hitter.
Military service and conversion to position player
Nishizawa served two years in the Japanese military during World War II. This helped put additional toll on his arm, though he would still pitch in 1946, going 0-8 with a 4.52 ERA as a shade of his former self. He hit .264/.312/.343 at the plate.
In 1947, Michio hit .265/.311/.370 and threw his final five innings in the first of two seasons for the Kinsei Stars. His career pitching line was 60-65, 2.22 in 231 games. He walked 742 in 1,297 innings, had worked 11 complete games and 7 shutouts.
Nishizawa kept on improving and batted .260/.321/.409 in 1948, smacking 16 home runs. In 1949, he returned to Nagoya (now the Chunichi Dragons). He hit .309/.366/.567 and was 8th in the JPBL in average. He scored 91, drove in 114 and cracked 37 homers in a great season. He began wearing number 15 that year; it would later be retired by Chunichi, one of only two retired by them through 2006.
1950-1958: Central League stardom
Nishizawa smashed 46 homers in the 1950 season, but was only second in the new Central League, five behind Makoto Kozuru. He made the first CL Best Nine team at first base. He hit .311/.374/.607 with 104 runs and 135 RBI. He was 10th in the league in average and second in homers. In 1951, Michio batted .270/.360/.441 in 95 games in an off-year. He did make the first CL All-Star team.
In 1952, he led the league in both batting average and runs batted in (98) as well as total bases (242). His batting line overall read .353/.426/.559. He cracked 20 homers and stole 8 bases in 9 tries. He was an All-Star again and the Best Nine selection at first for the CL.
At age 31, Nishizawa batted .325/.381/.545 with 22 HR and 81 RBI. He was third in the league in average behind Tetsuharu Kawakami and Masayasu Kaneda. He led the CL in slugging, but lost out the Best Nine slot to Kawakami. He made his third straight All-Star team.
In 1954, Michio hit .341/.389/.540 and was an All-Star. He led the loop with 254 total bases and was third in average behind Wally Yonamine and Hiroyuki Watanabe. He earned his third and final Best Nine selection. He had 32 doubles, 16 homers and 80 RBI. The Dragons, meanwhile, snapped an eight-year title run by the Yomiuri Giants. Nishizawa batted .231/.276/.385 in the 1954 Japan Series; through 2006, it marks the lone Series won by Chunichi.
The next season, Nishizawa produced at a .261/.329/.410 clip, his glory days suddenly behind him. He hit 14 homers, his last season in double digits. In 1956, the 34-year-old veteran batted .271/.291/.392 and led the CL with six sacrifice flies. His batting line in 1957 was .280/.323/.388. He only went deep twice in 1958 while hitting .275/.314/.323 in his final season.
Overall, Nishizawa had batted .286/.342/.445 in NPB with 271 doubles, 212 HR and 940 RBI.
Michio returned to Chunichi as manager in 1964, replacing Kiyoshi Sugiura about halfway into the year. The Dragons went 36-49 under Nishizawa and finished last overall. In 1965, they improved to 77-59-4, second to the Giants, now in their greatest dynasty under Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima. The 1966 Dragons were again second only to the "V-9" Giants with a 76-54-2 record. In Nishizawa's last year at the helm, they were second for the third straight year at 72-58-4; Nishizawa missed some time in May and they were 64-56-4 under his watch.
The Dragons compiled a 253-217-10 record in Nishizawa's four seasons at the helm.
- Wikipedia entry
- The Ballplayers - Michio Nishizawa
- Michio Nishizawa batting statistics
- Michio Nishizawa pitching statistics
- Menko Strip with Michio Nishizawa