Sunday, September 28, 2014

Card Of The Week September 28

The Yomiuri Giants clinched the Central League Pennant for the umpteenth time this past week (note that NPB considers the first place team in each league the pennant winner even if that team does not win the Climax Series and represent the league in the Nippon Series).  This made me start reflecting about the managerial career of Tatsunori Hara.  This is the ninth season of Hara's second stint as Giants manager.  He won the pennant and the Nippon Series in the first year of his first managerial stint (in 2002) but stepped down after the following season when the team was unable to counter the lose of Hideki Matsui and dropped to third.  He was rehired after the Giants suffered through two seasons under Tsuneo Horiuchi, finishing third in 2004 and fifth in 2005 (the lowest the team had finished since 1979 and only the third time they'd finished lower than fourth since the two league system started in 1950).  He's won six additional pennants since he returned in 2006 and two Nippon Series championships as well.

With this being his eleventh season overall, he is now tied with Shigeru Mizuhara (1950-60) for third most seasons as Giants manager.  Shigeo Nagashima managed for 15 years in two stints (1975-1980 and 1993-2001) and Tetsuharu Kawakami managed for 14 years (1961-1974).

A couple interesting facts about the Giants - they have not made a mid-season managerial change since 1949, the last season under the one league system and they've never had a manager who played or managed for another team prior to being hired as Giants manager.  I've wondered lately if Hideki Matsui didn't return to play in Japan with another team (like Hanshin) so that he would not disqualify himself from being Giants manager in the future.

Here's a card of Hara from his first season as Giants manager (2002 BBM 1st Version #362):

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