Takenori Emoto (江本 孟紀)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 170 lb.
Takenori Emoto was a four-time All-Star in Nippon Pro Baseball.
Toei and Nankai
Emoto signed with the Toei Flyers outside of the draft. He debuted in 1971, going 0-4 with a 5.04 ERA and 35 walks in 60 2/3 innings. Moving to the Nankai Hawks in 1972, he improved to 16-13, 3.03 despite 118 walks in 237 1/3 innings. He led the Pacific League with 7 wild pitches while finishing 6th in ERA (between Mitsuhiro Adachi and Hisashi Yamada). He went 12-14 with a 2.73 ERA and .216 opponent average in 1973. He was 5th in the PL in ERA, between Takashi Mizutani and Soroku Yagisawa. He did set a couple negative records, committing three balks on October 3, a NPB record, and setting a PL record with 10 balks for the year. Domingo Guzman would break the single-game mark 34 years later. In the Japan Series, the Hawks faced the Yomiuri Giants, winners of the past 8 Japan Series. Emoto beat Yomiuri in game one but lost game four and Nankai fell 4 games to 1. He was 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in his only Japan Series.
Emoto remained sharp at 13-12, 3.16 in 1974 though he also remained wild (111 BB in 216 2/3 IP). He made his first All-Star team, led the league in walks and hit batsmen (14) and missed out on the top 10 in ERA. The Kochi native had a 11-14, 2.96 record in 1975 while leading the PL in walks (78) for the second time.
He switched clubs again, this time moving to the Hanshin Tigers in a trade with Tsutomu Hasegawa and Yutaka Igeuchi for Yutaka Enatsu and Mitsuru Mocihizuki. Emoto made his second All-Star team (first in the Central League) in 1976, going 15-9 with a 3.76 ERA (10th in the league).
Emoto fell to 11-14, 3.70 in 1977. He led the league in wild pitches, made his third All-Star team and tossed three shutouts to tie Senichi Hoshino, Kenji Furusawa and Shigeru Kobayashi for the CL lead. He also finished 6th in ERA, between Yasujiro Suzuki and Kazuyuki Yamamoto. The veteran had a 11-13, 3.11 record and 11 saves in 1978, holding opponents to a .225 average. He led the league with 9 wild pitches. He finished second in ERA, .29 shy of leader Hisao Niura.
In 1979, Emoto faded to 12-12, 4.38 with six saves. He led in hit batsmen (16), wild pitches (5) and losses (tied with Kazuhiko Endo and Kenichi Kajima) in a negative trifecta. He did make his 4th and final All-Star team but also became the 75th NPB pitcher to win 100 games. The right-hander continued to have trouble in 1980 at 8-15, 4.78. He was two losses shy of CL leader Akio Saito. On June 8, he became the 59th NPB pitcher to reach 1,000 career strikeouts. He rebounded to 4-6, 3.52 in 1981. That year, he retired over comments he made during a game with the Yakult Swallows.
Overall, Emoto was 113-126 with 19 saves and a 3.52 ERA in 395 NPB games (267 starts). He walked 822 and struck out 1,130 in 1,978 2/3 innings. He had 24 balks, the all-time NPB record. At the plate, he hit .148/.173/.209.
Emoto didn't slow down after retiring from pitching. He worked as a baseball commentator for Sankei Sports and wrote a book which sold two million copies. From 1992-2004, he served in the Japanese Diet as a member of the Peace Party. In 2006, he managed the Kyoto Firebirds (successor to the Samurai Golden Bears). He then guided the Thai national team in the 2007 Asian Championship and 2007 Baseball World Cup.
- Japanbaseballdaily by Gary Garland
- Taiwan Baseball Wiki