Shozo Watanabe

From BR Bullpen

Shozo Watanabe (渡辺 省三)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 150 lbs.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Shozo Watanabe played in Nippon Pro Baseball for 13 years and won an ERA title.

Watanabe was signed by the Osaka Tigers in 1953 and he soon joined the bullpen of the Tigers as a rookie. He recorded a Central League-leading 58 appearances with a 10-11 record and a 2.86 ERA. Watanabe improved to 10-13 with a 2.50 ERA in 1954, and had a 18-11 record with a 2.40 ERA in 1955. He ranked 7th in wins (12 behind Ryohei Hasegawa) in the CL.

The 1956 season was Watanabe's career year, as he won the CL ERA title with a 1.45 mark (.01 ahead of Tsuneo Horiuchi) and collected 22 wins. He ranked 5th in wins, 5 behind Takehiko Bessho. Watanabe was one of the 12 players who was led by Juzo Sanada and Masayasu Kaneda to launched a petition in order to request a change from manager Fumio Fujimura. The incident didn't influence his pitching as he went 17-9 with a 1.88 ERA in 1957. He ranked 7th in wins (11 behind Masaichi Kaneda) and 4th in ERA (.25 behind Kaneda).

The Ehime native went 12-12 with a 2.81 ERA in 1958, but he was removed from the rotation as his ERA rose to 3.38 in 1959. Watanabe then extended his stable performance as the main long-inning reliever for the Tigers, as he went 8-6 with a 2.53 ERA, 11-6 with a 1.88 ERA and 10-5 with a 2.83 ERA respectively in the next three seasons. He was .18 shy of robbing the ERA title from Hiroshi Gondo in 1961. Watanabe appeared in 1962 Nippon Series Game 3, started and went 4 shutout innings. Minoru Murayama took over with a 1-0 lead but the game ended as a 12-inning, 2-2 tie and Watanabe ended up with a no-decision. He then pitched 2 shutout innings in Game 5 and allowed a run in 3 innings in Game 6. The Hanshin Tigers were beaten by the Toei Flyers in 7 games. He had the best ERA of any qualifying hurler in the Series. Hanshin would have to wait 23 years before their first Japan Series title.

Watanabe only went 6-6 with a 3.90 ERA in 38 games in 1963, and improved to 6-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 1964. The Tigers won the pennant again in 1964, and Watanabe recorded a shutout inning in Game 4 and pitched 3 innings with a run allowed in Game 5 of the 1964 Japan Series. He had the best ERA of any Tiger hurler with 4+ IP, but Joe Stanka was better for the Hawks. The Tigers lost to the Nankai Hawks in Game 7 again. The veteran only had one win with a 2.45 ERA in 32 games in 1965, and he announced his retirement after the 1965 season. Watanabe then served as pitching coach for the Tigers in 1966, from 1970 to 1971 and in 1978. He also coached their minor league team from 1967 to 1969. After retiring from the field, he worked as a scout for the Tigers until he mysteriously fell from a building in 1998.

Overall, Watanabe was 134-96 with a 2.44 ERA, struck out 583 and pitched 2,018 1/3 innings in 13 years in the NPB.

Related Sites[edit]