Toshizo Sakamoto

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ToshizoSakamoto.jpg

Toshizo Sakamoto (阪本 敏三)

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

BR Register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Toshizo Sakamoto was named the top shortstop in the Pacific League for a four-year period.

Sakamoto won seven straight steal titles in college then played for Kawai Musical Instruments in the industrial leagues. [1] He was signed by the Hankyu Braves. As a rookie in 1967, he hit .272/.329/.452 with 7 triples. He tied Fujio Yamaguchi for the PL lead in three-baggers. He hit .192/.222/.346 in the 1967 Japan Series but his five RBI tied Daryl Spencer for the team lead as they fell to the dynastic Yomiuri Giants. He hit the first homer for Hankyu in a Japan Series, innings before Kiyoshi Morimoto hit the 2nd; both were in Game 4. [2]

He went 1 for 7 as the main PL shortstop in the 1968 NPB All-Star Games; Kenji Koike was the backup. [3] He batted .278/.342/.389 with 74 runs in 1968 and stole 50 bases in 57 tries after going only 9-for-17 as a rookie. He was among the PL leaders in runs (5th), hits (137, 6th), doubles (24, 6th, between Yoshinori Hirose and Masahiro Doi), triples (5, tied for 4th with Tadayoshi Okuma and Hiroyuki Yamazaki), steals (2nd, 4 behind Tomonori Yasui) and sacrifice hits (18, 3rd). He made the Best Nine as the top shortstop in the PL. He hit .222/.222/.259 in the 1968 Japan Series as Hankyu again lost to Yomiuri; he scored six runs in six games. Only Yomiuri's Shigeru Takada and Isao Shibata scored more that Series. [4]

The Kyoto native was 3 for 7 with two runs, a stolen base and a RBI in the 1969 NPB All-Star Games, splitting shortstop with Yasui. [5] He hit .284/.325/.423 with 25 doubles, 13 homers and 75 runs in 1969 and stole 47 bases in 57 tries. He finished 5th in runs (between Doi and Yamazaki), tied George Altman for 4th in doubles, was 5th in hits (143), led in steals (five ahead of Yusui) and was 3rd in sacrifice hits (16). He again made the Best Nine. In the 1969 Japan Series, the Giants beat the Braves again; he hit .292/.346/.500 with six runs in seven games. He again led Hankyu in runs, tying Sadaharu Oh and Takada for the Series lead. [6]

He was 0 for 5 with a run and a RBI in the 1970 NPB All-Star Games, splitting short with Yutaka Ohashi and Tsuyoshi Oshita. [7] He hit .244/.325/.347 with 28 steals in 34 tries. He tied Jinten Haku for 10th in the PL with 67 runs, tied Yutaka Fukumoto for 5th in doubles (23), tied Haku and Hirose for 3rd in stolen bases, was 8th with 53 walks and tied Toshikazu Hattori for 5th in sacrifice hits (12). He again made the Best Nine.

Sakamoto made his final All-Star team in the 1971 NPB All-Star Games. He went 2 for 9. [8] 1971 was a rebound year as he hit .282/.338/.413 with 15 homers, 72 runs and 36 swipes while only being caught six times. He tied Michiyo Arito and Toru Ogawa for 9th in hits (135), tied Hirose for 2nd in steals (31 be hind Fukumoto), tied for 7th in sacrifice flies (5) and led with 23 sacrifice hits. He made his fourth straight, and final, Best Nine as the PL's top shortstop. He eked out a .211/.318/.316 line in the 1971 Japan Series but scored four runs in four games, leading Hankyu as they got swept by Yomiuri. A defensive lapse let Shigeo Nagashima get a hit and might have cost him his tenure with the team. [9]

Hankyu then traded him with Seigo Sasaki and Koji Okamura to the Toei Flyers for Masayuki Tanemo and Ohashi. [10] He had another fine year in 1972 at .278/.336/.405 with 16 homers and 75 runs. He was 5th in the PL in runs (between Katsuo Osugi and Hiromitsu Kadota), tied Mitsuo Motoi and Katsuya Nomura for 8th in hits (138) and was 2nd with 21 sacrifice hits (9 behind Yasui). Ohashi beat him out as the Best Nine shortstop pick. He went 3 for 4 with a homer and a steal in 1972 NPB All-Star Game 1 to win game MVP, was 2 for 4 with a homer and two RBI in Game 2 and was 0 for 4 in Game 3; he played all of each game at short. [11]

He moved to third base in 1973 for the team, now renamed the Nittaku Home Flyers, and batted .268/.322/.372 with 20 doubles. He was 7th in the league in two-baggers, tied for 9th with 8 sacrifice hits and tied for 9th with 4 sacrifice flies. The team switched names again in 1974 to the Nippon Ham Fighters, he produced at a .280/.327/.417 rate with ten homers and sixteen steals in twenty-two attempts. He tied Haku and Isao Harimoto for 9th in the PL in doubles (20).

The team kept the same name in 1975, but Sakamoto changed positions again, moving to second base. He hit .261/.332/.363 and tied for 9th in the PL with eleven sacrifice hits. He was the first Designated Hitter in a NPB game when the PL instituted the DH that year. [12] On April 26, he doubled off Tetsuya Yoneda to become the 88th player in NPB history to 1,000 hits. [13]

He was then traded with Kenichi Yazawa to the Kintetsu Buffaloes for Hattori and Yozo Nagabuchi. In 1976, the veteran hit .251/.314/.308. He kept the same position and the same team and team name in 1977, the first time in seven years that this happened. He lifted his batting line to .288/.346/.349 and showed he could still run (16 SB, 3 CS). He tied Shigeru Ishiwata for 8th in the league in swipes.

Sakamoto fell to .185/.228/.204 in limited time in 1978, as Shunji Nishimura took over at second base, backed up by Chris Arnold. He moved to the Nankai Hawks in 1979 and put up a .311/.369/.363 batting line in 61 games, backing up Frank Ortenzio at DH. As a player-coach in 1980, he hit .269/.347/.346 in 65 games, backing up Takayuki Kono at second.

He ended his NPB career with a .272/.331/.385 batting line in 1,447 games, scoring 649 runs and stealing 243 bases in 316 tries. He had played 731 games at SS, 289 at 2B and 249 in 3B as well as 70 at DH and two in the outfield. Through 2011, he was tied for 44th in NPB history in steals with Hiromichi Ishige, tied for 100th in caught stealing, was 70th in steal percentage (between Nobuhiro Matsuda and Tadashi Matsumoto) and tied Takeshi Hidaka for 71st in sacrifice hits. [14]

Toshizo was a commentator in 1982-1983 then was a Kintetsu coach in 1984, coached in the minors for them from 1985-1991 then was back with their top team as a coach from 1992-1996. He then worked with youth baseball. [15]

Sources[edit]

  1. Defunct Japanbaseballdaily.com site by Gary Garland
  2. ibid.
  3. Michael Eng's Japanese Baseball Database
  4. Defunct Japanbaseballdaily.com site
  5. Michael Eng database, 1969 NPB All-Star Games
  6. Defunct Japanbaseballdaily.com site
  7. Michael Eng database, 1970 NPB All-Star Games
  8. Michael Eng database, 1971 NPB All-Star Game
  9. Defunct Japanbaseballdaily.com site
  10. Japanese Wikipedia
  11. Michael Eng database, 1972 NPB All-Star Games; Japanese Wikipedia
  12. Japanese Baseball Cards blog
  13. Japanese Wikipedia
  14. Michael Eng DB, career leaders
  15. Japanese Wikipedia