Saturday, October 17, 2015

RIP Koki Morita

Very sad news yesterday - former Baystar and Buffalo pitcher Koki Morita has passed away from a brain tumor at age 45.  Morita was the first round pick of the Yokohama Taiyo Whales in the 1987 draft and debuted with the ichi-gun team in 1988 at age 18.  He was primarily a relief pitcher.  His best season was probably 1992, when he went 14-6 with a Pacific League leading ERA of 2.05 almost exclusively out of the bullpen.  He was traded to Kintetsu following the 1997 season for Hitoshi Nakane.  Late in the 1998 season he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery to remove it.  He missed much of the 1999 season in rehab and didn't return as a regular with the ichi-gun Buffaloes until 2001.  He was named comeback player of the year that season.  He retired after the 2002 season.  He had a relapse of tumor that again required surgery in 2005 and (if I'm understanding his Japanese wikipedia page correctly) further relapses in 2010 and later.  (Sadly he had a younger brother who also died of a brain tumor when Morita was five.)

He made the All Star team three times (1992, 1995 and 2001) and appeared in the 2001 Nippon Series with Kintetsu.

1988 Takara Whales #15

1993 BBM #7

2005 BBM All Stars #A13

1999 BBM #245

2001 BBM Nippon Series #S31

2003 BBM 1st Version #414

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