Tuesday, January 24, 2023

RIP Hiromitsu Kadota

Terrible news out of Japan today - former Nankai Hawks slugger Hiromitsu Kadota has passed away at age 74.  Kadota had spent several years playing for Kuraray Okayama before being the second round pick of the Hawks in the 1969 draft.  He'd actually been drafted by the Hankyu Braves in the tenth round the previous year but he refused to sign since he'd been drafted so low.  He made his ichi-gun debut in 1970, became a regular in 1971 and quickly established himself as a star.  He remained a star for the team throughout the 70's and was pretty much the team's brightest spot in their lean years in the 80's.  He was Pacific League MVP at age 40 in 1988, the Hawks' final season in Osaka.  When the team was sold to Daiei, he refused to move with them to Fukuoka because his kids were in school.  He ended up joining the Braves - 20 years after they had drafted him although the team had just been sold to Orix by Hankyu.  He spent two seasons in Nishinomiya before he decided to rejoin the Hawks in Fukuoka.  He played for Daiei for two seasons before retiring at age 44 at the end of the 1992 season.  His retirement game was the final game played at Heiwadai Stadium as the Hawks would move into Fukuoka Dome for 1993.

Kadota finished his career with 567 home runs, third most in NPB history behind Sadaharu Oh and Katsuya Nomura.  He led the Pacific League in home runs three times (1981, 1983 & 1988), RBIs twice (1971 & 1988) and OBP three times (1981, 1987 & 1988).  Besides his MVP award he also won nine Best 9 awards (1971, 1976-77,  1981, 1983, 1988-89) and a Shoriki Award (1988) - he's the only DH to ever win this award.  He made the All Star team 14 times (1972, 1975-77, 1980-84, 1987-91) and was elected to the Hall Of Fame in 2006.  

Kadota was one of my favorite players so I hope you won't mind that I'm going to share a bunch of cards of his.

1973/74 Calbee #78

1973/74 Calbee #83

1977 Yamakatsu JY3

1978 Yamakatsu JY6

1981 Calbee #26

1983 Calbee #227

1984 Calbee #37

1985 Calbee #129

1986 Takara Hawks #60

1989 Lotte #40

1990 Lotte #40

1991 BBM #312

1992 Calbee #43

2022 Hawks History 1938-2022 #18

I love the fact that you can see that these cards illustrate the changes in his uniform number over the years - he wore #27 from 1970 to 1979, #44 from 1980 to 1982, #60 from 1983 to 1988, #78 in his two years with Orix in 1989 and 1990 and #53 in his last two years with Daiei in 1991 and 1992.

1 comment:

Sean said...

Ah that is sad to hear, I also liked Kadota quite a bit, for a guy who put up such monstrous numbers it seems like he always gets overlooked.

Nice collection of his cards too, in addition to seeing his numbers evolve its also nice to see the old green Hawks uniforms compared to the ugly early 90s Daiei ones!