Takeshi Koba

From BR Bullpen


Takeshi Koba (古葉 竹識)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 7", Weight 154 lbs.

BR Register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Takeshi Koba had played and managed in the Nippon Pro Baseball.

Koba was signed by the Hiroshima Carp in 1958. Although his fielding was not as good as their original starter Mitsuo Yoneyama, Koba still took the starting shortstop spot with his solid batting. He hit .224/.269/.303 with 5 homers in his rookie year, then improved to .229/.281/.312 in 1959 and .267/.315/.308 in 1960. The Kumamoto native hit .286/.341/.376 in 1961, ranking 5th in the Central League in BA (.067 behind Shigeo Nagashima) and 10th in hits (31 behind Nagashima). He slumped to .243/.299/.288 in the next season.

The Kumamoto native had a career year in 1963. He was selected into the 1963 NPB All-Star Games for the first All-Star appearance in his career. Koba went 2-for-5 combined in the first two games, then shined in Game 3. He had a clutch defensive play in the eighth inning, when Akitoshi Kodama wanted to steal second; catcher Masaaki Mori's throw was a a little higher, then third-base runner Masahiro Doi tried to score. However, Koda jumped high, caught the ball and passed it exactly to Mori's glove to stop the Pacific League's go-ahead run. What's more, Koba hit a clutch RBI double off Osamu Kubota in the 10th inning to helped the Central League win the game, and he won the MVP. He ended up hitting .339/.384/.441 with 32 steals, just .002 shy of claiming his first batting title from Nagashima, and ranked 4th in steals (14 behind Morimichi Takagi). He also won his only Best Nine award as a shortstop.

Koba couldn't extend his solid performance into the next season, and only batted .218/.273/.261 while battling injury after Gentaro Shimada plunked him on his chin. He still swiped 57 times, and led the league in steals. He still attended the 1964 NPB All-Star Game, and went 0-for-2 in Game 3. The Kumamoto native bounced back and recorded a .267/.314/.334 line with 38 steals in 1965. He was 6th in steals (6 behind Takagi), but also led the league in CS with 21. Koda only had a .247/.296/.317 batting line in 1966, and led the league with 6 triples. Koba was selected into the 1966 NPB All-Star Game. He went 0-for-3 combined in the first two games, and blasted a clutch 2-run homer off Keishi Suzuki in Game 3. He won the MVP of that game. His batting declined again, as his batting line was .236/.275/.291 in 1967 and .223/.289/.291 in 1968. He led the Central League in steals again with 39 (2 ahead of Isao Shibata). He only hit .211/.259/.272 in 1969, and the Carp traded him with Katsuhiro Jono and Takashi Teraoka to the Nankai Hawks for Yasuhiro Kunisada after that season. Koba hit .274/.323/.329 in 1970, but slumped to .216/.245/.255 in 48 games in 1971. He announced his retirement after the 1971 season.

After retiring, he was the fielding coach for Nankai's minor team in 1972, then coached for the big club in 1973. He came back to his original team (the Carp) because his friend, the Carp's manager Katsuya Morinaga, invited him. He was the fielding coach in the 1974 season, then succeeded Joe Lutz to become the Carp's manager in 1975 because Lutz quit after only managing 15 games; Lutz was the first American to manage in Japan and was criticized heavily for using American coaching methods. Koba led the Carp to become the top team in the Central League for the first time in their history, winning their first pennant and then their first Nippon Series titles in 1979, 1980 and 1984. He managed them for 11 years, ended up 711-576 and they only had one season below .500 winning percentage. He also won the Matsutaro Shoriki Award in 1980. Koba then managed the Taiyo Whales from 1987 to 1989, but he couldn't help the Whales leave the B-Class, and had a 162-215 record. Koba was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Overall, Koba had hit .252/.303/.319 with 263 steals in 14 seasons in NPB. He was 873-791 with 3 Nippon Series title as a manager.

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