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Mitsuhiro Adachi

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Mitsuhiro Adachi (足立 光宏)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Mitsuhiro Adachi pitched for the Hankyu Braves for 21 years, winning one MVP award and appearing nine Japan Series.

Adachi lost his father during World War II. He hurt his elbow in high school and switched to a submarine style, which he would use the rest of his career. Adachi played briefly in the industrial leagues then signed with Hankyu. Debuting as a teenager, he was 4-7 with a 3.79 ERA in 1959. He had a 1-4, 4.06 record in 1961 and 8-4, 1.96 in 1962. On May 24, 1962, he struck out 17 Nankai Hawks, setting a Nippon Pro Baseball record for whiffs (since broken). Had he qualified, he would have led the Pacific League in ERA.

In 1963, Adachi fell to 6-18, 3.45 while walking only 31 in 200 2/3 IP. He was 13-15 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 1964. He was 10th in the PL in ERA and made his first All-Star team. He lowered his ERA slightly to 2.74 in 1965 and went 15-9, again 10th in the league in ERA. The Osaka native posted a 17-14, 2.63 record and 1.04 WHIP in 1966, making his second All-Star team and was 9th in ERA, between Yukio Ozaki and Kiyohiro Miura. He hit a league-high 14 batters.

Adachi had his best year in 1967, going 20-10 with a 1.75 ERA, .199 opponent average and .94 WHIP. He led the PL in ERA by .35 over Shoji Miyazaki, was an All-Star and made the Best Nine as the top pitcher. He also was named the league's MVP. In the 1967 Japan Series, Hankyu's first Japan Series, he was 2-1 with a 4.95 ERA and won the Fighting Spirit Award as the MVP of the losing cause, getting both of Hankyu's wins. In game two, he lost a 1-0 decision to Tsuneo Horiuchi and the Yomiuri Giants. With Hankyu down 3 games to 0, he won game 4 against the legendary Masaichi Kaneda, then took game 5 in relief. He also appeared in game 6, a loss that gave Yomiuri the first of their historic nine straight titles.

#16 hurt his shoulder during spring training in 1968. He added a sinker to his repertoire to compensate for the loss of speed on his fastball and would rely heavily on it. He also taught it to Hisashi Yamada later on. Adachi only pitched five games in '68, going 0-1 with a 3.50 ERA. He struggled in the 1968 Japan Series, with 7 runs in 6 2/3 innings and dropping game two to Kunio Jonouchi. Adachi pitched mostly in relief in 1969 and was still not up to his old level (2-1, 4.77, .297 opponent average). He was 2-0 with a 5.71 ERA in the 1969 Japan Series, again getting both of Hankyu's wins as they fell to the Giants. He relieved in games one and two, started games three and five and relieved in game six. He got the wins in games 2 and 5.

Adachi went 9-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 1970. In April 1971, he became the 52nd NPB hurler to 100 wins and the 39th to 1,000 strikeouts. Making his first All-Star team since his injury, he finished with a 19-8, 2.49 record, .219 opponent average and 1.01 WHIP. He was second in the PL in ERA, .12 behind Yamada. In the 1971 Japan Series, he lost both game one (2-1) and game four to Horiuchi as Yomiuri won in five. He had a 7.30 ERA for the Series.

Adachi went 16-6 with a 2.63 ERA in 1972. He finished 5th in the league in ERA (between Michio Sato and Takenori Emoto) and made his fifth All-Star squad. He also won the inaugural Diamond Glove Award as the top-fielding pitcher in the PL. He started games 2 and 3 of the 1972 Japan Series and relieved in game five. His victory in game three against Horiuchi marked Hankyu's only win of the Series, the third time that he got all of the Braves' wins in a Series. He won his second Fighting Spirit Award.

After falling to 4-6, 4.63 in 1973, he rebounded to 10-9, 3.14 in 1974. He won his second Diamond Glove. He was 11-10 with a 2.72 ERA in 1975 and won his third Diamond Glove. He ranked 6th in the PL in ERA, between Shinichi Yamauchi and Yoshitaka Kihara. In the 1975 Japan Series, he had a 5.25 ERA, starting no-decisions in games one, four and six; Hankyu finally won a Japan Series, beating the Hiroshima Carp in six contests.

Adachi was 17-8 with a 2.54 ERA and 27 walks in 212 2/3 innings at age 36 in 1976. He won his last Diamond Glove and made his last All-Star team. He was 7th in ERA. He was 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA in the 1976 Japan Series, beating Clyde Wright in both the opener and game seven to finally top Yomiuri.

The right-hander's career headed downhill from there. He had a 7-7, 3.16 record in 1977. In the 1977 Japan Series, he shut out Yomiuri in game two as Hankyu won the Series in five games. He was 4-6 with a save and a 4.20 ERA in 1978, battling knee problems. He shut out the Yakult Swallows in game three of the 1978 Japan Series. When the Series went to a 7th game, Toshiharu Ueda called on the old-timer, who had been 9-4 in his Series career. He battled Hiromu Matsuoka to a scoreless duel after four, but allowed one run in the 5th then served up a disputed homer to Katsuo Osugi in the 6th. The game took a 79-minute break while the Osugi homer was under question, during which time Adachi's knee stiffened. He was yanked in favor of Shouji Matsumoto. For the Series, he had a 1-1, 1.26 record. He took home his third Fighting Spirit Award (the only player to do so as of 2010); only Atsushi Nagaike and Kazuhisa Inao had won two before 1978.

Adachi only pitched four games (1-1, 6.06) in 1979 then retired. He had a career record of 187-153, 2.91 in 676 games. He had walked only 567 in 3,103 innings.

He later was a minor league pitching coach for the Braves and an Orix BlueWave scout.

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