Katsuya Nomura, 84, Enduring Star of Japanese Baseball, Dies

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TOKYO — Katsuya Nomura, a mainstay of the baseball world in postwar Japan who was one of many nation’s best catchers earlier than occurring to an extended second profession as a supervisor, died on Tuesday in Tokyo. He was 84.

The trigger was a coronary heart assault, his son Don Nomura mentioned.

In his 26 years as a participant and a player-manager, Nomura hit 657 home runs and had 1,988 runs batted in, each second on the all-time checklist behind the nice slugger Sadaharu Oh. He additionally collected 2,901 hits in 3,017 video games, additionally the second-highest totals in Japan.

Nomura’s greatest season was 1965, when he turned the primary Japanese participant within the postwar period to win the triple crown, hitting 42 home runs, driving in 110 runs and batting .320. He led the Pacific League in home runs 9 occasions and was the league’s Most Valuable Player 5 occasions.

He was voted the most effective catcher in Japanese baseball 19 occasions and elected to Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.

For all his success on the sphere, although, Nomura by no means achieved the superstar standing of stars like Oh and Shigeo Nagashima, who performed for the extra glamorous and profitable Tokyo Yomiuri Giants of the Central League.

Nomura spent the majority of his taking part in days with the Osaka-based Nankai Hawks. (The crew later moved to Fukuoka and is now owned by the expertise big SoftBank.) The Hawks dominated the much less in style Pacific League throughout most of Nomura’s tenure with the membership, successful two championships but in addition dropping 4 occasions to the Giants.

“When I first met him, he was the all-time leading home run hitter, but I had never heard of him,” Don Nomura mentioned of his future stepfather. (Katsuya Nomura later adopted Don and his brother Kenneth, the sons of his second spouse.) “All I knew was Oh and Nagashima, because they were always on TV. I had to go to the bookstore and look him up.”

Nomura’s stature grew after he retired as a participant at 45 in 1980. He turned a full-time supervisor after a decade as a baseball analyst, beginning with the Yakult Swallows, perennial cellar-dwellers who additionally performed within the shadow of the Giants, their crosstown rivals in Tokyo.

According to Robert Whiting, who has written about baseball in Japan for 5 many years, Nomura discovered about the usage of statistics from his Hawks teammate Don Blasingame, a former infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants, who had additionally served as a head coach throughout Nomura’s tenure as player-manager, from 1970 to 1977. Nomura used that data to guide the Swallows to championships in 1993, 1995 and 1997. (He had additionally received a Pacific League crown with the Hawks in 1973.)

Nomura spent three years with the Hanshin Tigers, from 1999 to 2001, however resigned after his second spouse, Sachiyo, a tv commentator, was convicted of tax evasion. (He stepped down as supervisor of the Hawks in 1977 due to experiences that his spouse had meddled in membership affairs.)

After managing in Japan’s industrial league from 2003 to 2005, Nomura returned to the professional ranks in 2006 to manage the Rakuten Golden Eagles, who had entered the Pacific League a season earlier. After three dropping seasons, the Eagles made the postseason in Nomura’s fourth and last yr with the crew.

As a supervisor, he received 1,565 video games, misplaced 1,563 and tied 76 occasions.

Nomura was typically known as “Grumpy Grandpa” for his gruff and unsparing method. Some gamers felt the robust love helped them.

“Nomura taught me what pitching is and what baseball is from scratch,” mentioned the Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who began his profession with Rakuten. “That I met Nomura from my first year as a pro when he instructed me was the luckiest thing in my baseball life.”

Other gamers noticed Nomura’s model otherwise, significantly these he berated in individual and within the information media. He was additionally chilly to some overseas gamers, in keeping with Robert Whiting. After taking on the Swallows, Nomura launched Larry Parrish, one other former Major League Baseball infielder, who had led the league in home runs the yr earlier than. He additionally launched Tom O’Malley, who hit over .300 in his two seasons with Yakult. When the Hanshin Tigers refused to launch the pitcher Darrell May in 1999, he issued an announcement that accused Nomura of being xenophobic.

Katsuya Nomura was born on June 29, 1935, in Amino, a city in Kyoto Prefecture near the Sea of Japan. Nomura’s father, who was stationed in China, died when his son was a boy.

After graduating from Mineyama High School, Nomura joined the Nankai Hawks. He went hitless in 9 video games in 1954 and was demoted for a season, then returned to the highest membership for good in 1956.

Nomura had one son, Yoichi, together with his first spouse. He and his second spouse, Sachiyo, had a son, Katsunori Nomura, a backup catcher who’s now a coach with Rakuten. Nomura adopted Sachiyo’s sons after he married her. She died in 2017. In addition to his sons, Nomura is survived by seven grandchildren.

After he retired from baseball, he turned a tv analyst and at occasions was overshadowed by his spouse, who had change into a celeb for her caustic commentary.

Baseball remained in his blood till the tip.

“Nomura minus baseball equals zero,” he as soon as mentioned. “There would be nothing left if you take baseball away from me.”

James Wagner contributed reporting.