Reiichi Matsunaka

From BR Bullpen

Reiichi Matsunaga
(松永 怜一 [まつなが れいいち] Matsunaga Reiichi)

Biographical Information[edit]

Reiichi Matsunaga has been a longtime amateur manager in Japan. He has led teams and has won championships at the high school, college, national and international level. He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 by the Special Selection Committee.

Matsunaga was an infielder for his high school team, which played in the 1950 National Invitational High School Baseball Tournament. The team advanced to the second round, before bowing out. He later went on to play at Hosei University, making the school's team in his first year there. Matsunaga began to suffer from lumbago (lower back pain) in his fourth year and although he had planned on joining an industrial league team, he retired from playing during the year.

After graduating from university in 1955, Matsunaga became the manager of Hosei First High School, a position the he would hold for eight years (1955-1963). The team participated in the spring Koshien of 1960 and the 1961 National High School Baseball Championship.

In 1964, Matsunaga became the manager of his alma mater, Hosei. Under him, the club won six Tokyo Big6 Baseball League titles including three in a row from the 1969 fall season to the following fall. The team also won the 1968 All-Japan University Baseball Championship Series. Among the players Matsunaga coached while at Hosei are Takenori Emoto, Koichi Tabuchi, Masaru Tomita, Koji Yamamoto and the club's future manager Masatake Yamanaka.

Matsunaga left Hosei after the end of the 1970 school year to manage the industrial league's Sumitomo Metals. He stayed with the team through 1980 and won two JABA Baseball Championships (1977, 1979). During this time he also became the manager of the Japanese national baseball team, assuming the post full-time in 1980. The team captured the bronze medal at the third Intercontinental Cup in 1977. In 1984 he led the Japanese contingent at the first Olympic baseball tournament in Los Angeles, CA. The Japanese team defeated the heavily favored Americans in the finals, 6-3, to capture first place.

After retiring from managing, Matsunaga has continued to be active in Japanese amateur baseball. He has held positions with the Japanese Olympic commission, Japan Amateur Baseball Association and the Baseball Federation of Japan. He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 by the Special Selection Committee.