Tuesday, December 20, 2016

RIP Hajime Katoh

Former Lions and Giants pitcher Hajime Katoh has passed away from rectal cancer.  (He actually died on December 11 but his passing was just announced today.)  He was originally signed by the Nishitetsu Lions in 1971 outside of the draft - he was playing for the Daishowa Paper Mills team in the corporate leagues after dropping out of Asia University.  The Lions were still recovering from the "Black Mist Scandal" which had seen four of their pitchers banned for life for game fixing and Kato was immediately pressed into service in the rotation.  He ended up going 17-16 with a 3.95 ERA for a woeful Lions team (they finished the season 47-80-3, tied for last with the Lotte Orions 32.5 games behind the first place Nankai Hawks).  This performance earned him the Pacific League Rookie Of The Year award.

He remained with the (now) Taiheiyo Club Lions for the next three seasons before being traded along with Haruki Ihara to the Yomiuri Giants for Mitsuhara Sekimoto and Nobuhiro Tanai.  He played for the Giants until retiring at the end of the 1990 season - he was a player/coach in his final two seasons.  After retiring he coached for the Lions (1995-99 & 2001) and for several teams in the KBO (LG Twins 2002 & 2006, SK Wyverns 2005, 2007-11) and the La New Bears of the CPBL (2004).  He made the All Star team six times, three with the Lions (1972-74) and three with the Giants (1976, 1979, 1986).  He threw a no-hitter against the Carp in 1975.

2008 BBM Lions Memorial #18

1974/75 Calbee #925

2012 BBM No-Hitters #60

1989 Takara Giants #21

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