Gary Garland / the japanese insider
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March 30, 2002 - The sole batter to leadoff an opening day game with a first pitch dinger was the late outfielder Sukehiro Moroki of the Hankyu Braves (now the Orix Blue Wave) on April 7, 1962 against the Nankai (now Daiei) Hawks. The lucky hurler? Joe Stanka, whose MLB career with the Chicago White Sox consisted of two games, 5.1 innings total in 1958 before he shipped out to Japan in 1960 and became a pretty effective pitcher there, eventually becoming a 26 game winner in 1964. Stanka's career totals for Japan were 100-72 in seven seasons with an ERA of 3.03.
Moroki, when he was going to Keio University, one of Japan's most prestigious private schools, was the first post-war Triple Crown winner in the Tokyo Big Six University League. He joined the Mainichi Orions in 1957 and then moved over to Hankyu in 1960. His numbers: batted .250 during eleven seasons, hitting 51 homers, driving in 313 and posting a lifetime OPS of .652. He appeared in two all star games during his career.
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