Gary Garland / the japanese insider
TRIVIA TIME ANSWERS
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April 1, 2002 - It was Shigeya Iijima, a first baseman and outfielder with the Daiei Stars (later the Nankai Hawks and then Daiei Hawks; the first Daiei was a movie company not related to the supermarket chain that owns the Hawks now) on October 5th, 1951 against the Hankyu Braves (now the Orix Blue Wave). He slugged a grand salami, as M's announcer Dave Niehaus likes to say, to left in the top of the first and then in the seventh bashed one over the leftfield fence with two on and later in the same inning ripped another bases loaded shot, this time to center. He had two other at bats in that game, flying out to left and walking.
He was only the third player at the time to have gone yard twice in a single
inning. The first time THAT was done was by Japan's so-called "God of Hitting,"
Tetsuharu Kawakami, a first baseman with the Yomiuri Giants (Kawakami also
managed that team when it won its nine straight pennants and Japan Series),
who did it against Goldstar (or Kimboshi, take your pick, but it means "Gold
Star," who no longer exist) on May 16th, 1948 in the first inning.
The seven RBIs in one inning stood as a record for a single frame until Yakult Swallows shortstop Takahiro Ikeyama tied that mark on May 19th 1993 in the third inning of a game against Hiroshima, when he cranked a granny and then connected for a three run homer his second time around that stanza.
The thing about the Yakult game was that it was a wild one, as an all time record was tied for most combined hits by two teams in a game (42; Hiroshima had been involved in the earlier one as well, which was in 1986 against the Taiyo Whales), most total runs in a Central League game (33, tying a faceoff between the Taiyo Whales and Chunichi on October 17th, 1950). The all time record is 35. The game took 5 hours and 46 minutes to play, the fourth longest in history at that time.
Iijima himself had a ten year career starting in 1946 with the Tokyo Senators when there was still only one league. He then moved on to the Tokyu (also called Kyuuei at one time) Flyers, Daiei, and was with the latter when they turned into the Nankai Hawks.
He had his best season in 1950, the first year of the two league system, when he batted .322 and hit 27 homers and drove in 77 runs.
The following season, when he set the record the trivia question was about,
he batted .294 with 18 homers and 63 RBIs. So he had about one-sixth of his
total production for the year in that one game, though it needs to be said
he only played in 85 games in 1951, having 313 official at bats.
He won a batting title in 1952 with a .336 average, but his power numbers were down to 13 homers.He did have a career high in walks, though with 78.
His lifetime numbers were G 953 AB 3196 H 901 BA .282 HR 115 RBI 484 OPS .842. One interesting thing was that he had only six sacrifice flies in his entire career, which is pretty amazing. He was also an all star game MVP in 1952.
The most RBIs in a game by a foreign player is ten, and that has been done three times, once each by three different players: Leon Lee (Taiyo), Bobby Rose (Yokohama), and Tony Solaita (Nippon Ham). Solaita had four homers in his game, one to right, one to center and two to left against the Nankai Hawks on April 20, 1980. When Lee got his ten spot, it was, and still is, the CL record.
Rose, that same season (1999), was also the first player ever to accumulate
100 RBIs before the all star break and ended the season with 153. The Japanese
record is 161 by Makoto Kozuru, who was also the first player to hit more
than 50 homers in a season when he was with the Shochiku Robins in 1950.
With a better than .460 OBP and a .729 SLG, that's an 1.189 OPS that season
for Kozuru, perhaps THE career year in Japanese history in terms of disparity
with his other 14 seasons, since he never hit more than 24 homers in all
his other years, and he only reached that figure twice. Maybe Jim Albright,
if he's so inclined, can come up with a formula for career year disparities,
if he becomes so inclined. Anyway, Roses best OPS was around 1.100 and, aside
from the RBIs, the disparities with the rest of his career are nowhere near
Incidentally, here is a short article from the Asahi Shimbun's english edition about some of the name changes that Japanese ballclubs have been through. http://www.asahi.com/english/tenjin/K2002011900174.html
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