Former manager and Hall of Famer Junzo Sekine dies at 93
TOKYO -- Junzo Sekine, a Hall of Famer and former manager who split his career between the mound and the batter's box, died at 93 of old age on Thursday, April 9.
Ace pitcher Sekine played with Hosei University after finishing the 3rd Junior High of Nihon University, won 41 games at Tokyo Big-6 and joined Kintetsu in 1975. On October 30, 1949, Sekine batted 5th as a member of Tokyo Big-6 All Stars at a charity game against San Francisco Seals of 3A, the first U.S. professional team that visited Japan after the war. Even though Tokyo Big-6 lost 4-2, Sekine went the entire 13th innings. Japanese professional teams lost all the 10 games against SF Seals.
He managed the Yokohama-based Taiyo Whales, the predecessors of the DeNA BayStars, and later the Yakult Swallows. Sekine was a rarity in that he not only pitched 1,000-plus innings but also amassed over 1,000 hits.
He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.
Pitching from 1950 to 1957 for the Pacific League's Kintetsu franchise, Sekine toiled on the mound for what was one of the worst teams in Nippon Professional Baseball history. A part-time position player for his first three pro seasons, Sekine was converted to the outfield in 1957 just after he turned 30, and amassed 1,137 career hits.
Sekine retired after the 1965 season, and in 1970 became a coach for the Hiroshima Carp. The late Sachio Kinugasa, a Hall of Fame third baseman for the Carp, cited Sekine as an important influence in his development as a hitter.
From 1982 to 1984, Sekine managed the Taiyo Whales. He then managed the Yakult Swallows from 1987 to 1989. During his brief stay with the Swallows the club developed a number of the players who would be instrumental in the club's four Central League pennants under his successor, the late Katsuya Nomura.