Saturday, October 20, 2018

RIP Seizo Furukawa

I haven't seen anything in English about this but Jim Allen tweeted yesterday that former Chunichi and Hankyu player Seizo Furukawa had passed away at age 96.  Furukawa joined the Nagoya club as a 19 year old in 1941 and spent three seasons with them before joining the Army.  He lead the Japan Baseball League in home runs in 1942 and 1943 although with the depressed offense of the war years the totals were not impressive - he hit 8 in 1942 and 4 in 1943.  Jim mentions that Furukawa played every inning of a 28 inning game between Taiyo and Nagoya on May 24th, 1942 that ultimately ended as a 4-4 tie - it was Furukawa's two run home run in the ninth that forced extra innings in the game.  Furukawa actually caught all 28 innings after playing an entire 10 inning game against Asahi earlier that day (it was a triple header involving four teams that day at Korakuen Stadium - the first game was between Asahi and Nagoya, the second game was between Yomiuri and Taiyo and the third game was between Nagoya and Taiyo).  Jiro Noguchi and Michihiro Nishizawa pitched all 28 innings for Taiyo and Nagoya respectively.  Furukawa also caught Nishizawa's no-hitter against Hankyu on July 18th, 1942.

After the war Furukawa returned to the Nagoya team which was now going by the name the Chubu Nippon Dragons in 1946 and then the Chunichi Dragons in 1947 before moving on to the Hankyu Braves in 1948 where he played the remainder of his career.  He stole 56 bases in 1950 which was the second most in the Pacific League that year behind Tadasuka Kiduka of the Nankai Hawks.  He got seven hits in a game against the Hawks on August 30th, 1953 which is an NPB record.  He retired after the 1959 season and later wrote a horse racing column (if I'm understanding the Google translation of his Japanese Wikipedia page, I think he married the daughter of a famous Japanese horse trainer named Katsuyoshi Ito).

There's around 20 or so catalogued cards of Furukawa from his playing days, most of which are either bromide or Karuta cards.  There appears to only be one modern card of him - it's in the Dragons 70th Anniversary set that BBM put out in 2006.  I only have two total cards of him - a bromide card from the set catalogued as JBR 73 which came out in 1946 and is one of the earliest catalogued sets for professional baseball in Japan and the BBM card:

1946 JBR 73

2006 BBM Dragons 70th Anniversary #11

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