Shoichi Ono

From BR Bullpen

Shoichi Ono

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 1", Weight 185 lb.

Shoichi Ono was a star pitcher in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Ono was a first baseman and pitcher for Tokiwa Tanko in the industrial leagues before he began his pro career, but never hit well in NPB (.135/.160/.171). He was 4-1 as a rookie for the 1956 Mainichi Orions. In 1957, he improved to 26-9 with a 1.73 ERA, .199 opponent average, .99 WHIP and 245 whiffs in 296 1/3 innings. He was second in the Pacific League in ERA behind Kazuhisa Inao and tied Takao Kajimoto for the most shutouts (7).

Ono's record fell to 13-10 in 1958 though his ERA remained low (1.77) and his opponent average was still .204. Had he qualified, he would have again finished second to Inao in ERA. The left-hander made his first PL All-Star team in 1959, in which he was 22-9 with a 2.34 ERA, .200 opponent average and 244 strikeouts in 288 1/3 innings. He led the league in walks (118) and was 4th in ERA behind Tadashi Sugiura, Inao and Tetsuya Yoneda.

In 1960, Ono had his biggest year. In 22 starts and 45 relief appearances, he threw 304 innings, fanning 258 and walking 101. He tossed five shutouts, had a 1.98 ERA, went 33-11 and allowed a .211 average. He made the All-Star team and led the PL in ERA (.07 over Sugiura), wins, walks and games pitched. He was 59 strikeouts shy of Sugiura, so was not particularly close to a pitching Triple Crown. He made the Best Nine as his league's top pitcher but Ritsuo Horimoto took home the Sawamura Award as the best hurler in NPB. On October 6, he became the 22nd NPB hurler to reach 1,000 strikeouts. He struggled in his only postseason, with a 3.48 ERA against the Yomiuri Giants in the 1960 Japan Series and losing both games 2 and 4 as the Orions got swept.

Ono faded to 17-14, 3.16 in 1961. He struck out 211 and walked 97 (the most in the PL). He made his third All-Star team and became the 31st NPB pitcher to 100 wins. He was 9-15 with a 3.34 ERA and a league-worst 85 walks in 1962. He led the league in walks a 5th straight season with 123 in 1963 (and also led with six wild pitches); he was 13-17 with a 3.06 ERA, .210 opponent average and 206 strikeouts. He was 20 strikeouts shy of PL leader Inao and made his fourth All-Star squad.

The Fukushima native played his last season for the Orions in 1964, going 5-9 with a 3.71 ERA. Moving to the Taiyo Whales in 1965, he posted a record of 9-13, 3.32 followed by 5-7, 3.46 in 1966 and 2-7, 4.13 in 1967.

He played for the Chunichi Dragons in his last three seasons. In 1968, he was 6-11 with a 3.55 ERA. On September 30, he became the 6th NPB hurler to fan 2,000 batters. Making his first All-Star team in six years (and his first Central League All-Star team), the old-timer was 13-12 with a 2.64 ERA in 1969. He tied Keishi Asano for 8th in the CL in ERA. He made his sixth All-Star team in 1970, his last season; for the year, he was 7-10 with a 3.75 ERA.

Overall, Ono was 184-155 in 671 career games (331 starts) with 2,244 strikeouts and 1,116 walks in 2,909 innings. He allowed a .226 average for his career. After baseball, he went into business. Through 2010, he ranks 21st in NPB history in losses (between Tokuji Kawasaki and Masatoshi Gondo), games pitched (17th between Mitsuhiro Adachi and Koichiro Sasaki), innings (28th), strikeouts (11th between Minoru Murayama and Masahiro Yamamoto), ERA (26th between Yoshio Tempo and Yasuo Yonekawa) and walks (11th between Keishi Suzuki and Kozo Naito).

Source: Japan Baseball Daily