Osamu Higashio

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Osamu Higashio
Pitcher
Born: (1950-05-18) May 18, 1950 (age 63)
Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Professional debut
NPB: 1969 for the Nishitetsu Lions
Last professional appearance
1988 for the Seibu Lions
NPB statistics
Win-Loss 251-247
ERA 3.50
Strikeouts 1684
Teams

As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Inducted 2010

Osamu Higashio (東尾 修 Higashio Osamu?, born May 18, 1950 in Kibi, Wakayama, Japan) is a former Japanese baseball player who played in the Japanese professional leagues from 1969-1988. He also was manager of the Seibu Lions from 1995-2001.

Professional career[edit]

Higashio was a star in the Koshien high school baseball tournament, advancing to the semi-finals in the spring of 1968. He was drafted in the first round by the Nishitetsu Lions (the current Saitama Seibu Lions) later that year. He lost confidence in his pitching ability after seeing the high level of pitching in the Pacific League, and requested the team to convert him to a position player. The team accepted his request, but quickly withdrew it when the Black Mist Scandal erupted in the 1969 off-season. The ace of the Lions pitching staff, Masaaki Ikenaga, was banished from the professional leagues because of the scandal, and Higashio was forced into pitching a full year in the Lions starting rotation. His inexperience left him with a torrid 5.15 ERA in 40 games that year. Higashio made improvements in the following years, but still led the league in losses from 1971-1972. He pitched over 300 innings in 1972, but led the league in losses, hits given up, home runs given up, and runs given up. He also allowed over 100 walks in each of his seasons from 1971-1973.

The Lions team was sold by the Nishi-Nippon Railroad in 1973, becoming the Taiheiyo Club Lions, and was sold again to become the Crown Lighter Lions in 1978. It was during this turbulent period that Higashio emerged as the ace of the Lions pitching staff. He marked a 2.38 ERA in 1975, and led the league with 23 wins (but also in losses). He won 23 games again in 1978, pitching over 300 innings for the third time in his career. The Lions finally obtained financial stability in 1979, becoming the Seibu Lions, and won the Japanese championship series in 1982 and 1983. Higashio marked the lowest ERA in the league (2.92), and led the league in wins to receive the MVP award in 1983. The Lions won the league championship four years in a row from 1985-1988 (including three more Japanese championship series wins), and Higashio won his second MVP award in 1987. He announced his retirement in 1988, and is remembered as one of the leading Japanese pitchers in the 1980s.

Career statistics[edit]

  • Bolded figures are league-leading ones
Year Team G CG SHO W L SV IP H HR BB+HBP SO ER ERA(Place)
1969 Nishitetsu Lions 8 0 0 0 2 0 15.0 16 2 15 11 14 8.40
1970 40 3 0 11 18 0 173.1 183 22 97 94 99 5.15(21)
1971 51 3 0 8 16 0 221.1 198 20 133 109 92 3.75(17)
1972 55 13 2 18 25 0 309.2 313 37 122 171 126 3.66(15)
1973 Taiheiyo Club Lions 48 14 5 15 14 0 257.2 250 22 114 104 94 3.29(14)
1974 27 7 1 6 9 0 123.0 116 12 53 58 47 3.44
1975 54 25 4 23 15 7 317.2 287 14 70 154 84 2.38(3)
1976 43 15 2 13 11 5 243.1 256 14 59 93 86 3.19(14)
1977 Crown Lighter Lions 42 17 1 11 20 4 241.2 259 30 70 108 104 3.87(20)
1978 45 28 1 23 14 1 303.1 299 25 69 126 99 2.94(8)
1979 Seibu Lions 23 10 1 6 13 0 155.0 181 19 39 61 78 4.53(21)
1980 33 18 1 17 13 0 235.1 258 28 53 84 99 3.79(7)
1981 27 11 1 8 11 0 181.0 192 24 58 55 77 3.83(16)
1982 28 11 2 10 11 1 183.2 179 20 52 59 67 3.28(9)
1983 32 11 3 18 9 2 213.0 198 14 57 72 69 2.92(1)
1984 32 20 3 14 14 0 241.1 227 24 61 84 89 3.32(3)
1985 31 11 3 17 3 1 174.1 164 19 53 74 64 3.30(4)
1986 31 8 0 12 11 2 168.1 183 29 34 52 79 4.22(13)
1987 28 17 3 15 9 0 222.2 215 16 35 85 64 2.59(2)
1988 19 5 1 6 9 0 105.2 121 21 33 30 57 4.85
Career Total 697 247 34 251 247 23 4086 4095 412 1267 1684 1588 3.50

Managerial career[edit]

Higashio worked as a sports commentator for various television networks before returning to the Lions in 1995 as manager. Higashio drafted several top players, and recruited Darrin Jackson and Orestes Destrade from the major leagues, but ended up in 3rd place in his first two seasons as manager. The emergence of several young players, including Kazuo Matsui, put the Lions over the top in Higashio's third year, and the team won consecutive league championships in 1997 and 1998 (the Lions lost the Japanese championship series both years). Pitchers Shinji Mori, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Fumiya Nishiguchi and Denney Tomori also emerged during Higashio's tenure as manager. The Lions placed in 2nd in 1999 and 2000, and fell to 3rd place in 2001, and Higashio resigned from his post at the end of 2001.

He has currently returned to his role as a sports commentator. In September, 2006, he became the head of the Tokyo Apache Japanese professional basketball team.

Beanballs[edit]

Higashio often pitched towards the inside of the plate to intimidate opposing batters during his professional career, and he holds the Japanese career record for hit batsmen (165). He was not afraid to throw pitches close to the batter, and showed little remorse after hitting batters. In 1986, he received a beating on the mound by Kintetsu Buffaloes player, Richard Davis, after hitting Davis with a pitch (He continued pitching after the incident, marking the win). Many fans sympathized with Davis, and demanded that Higashio be penalized as well for hitting so many batters. Managers of rival teams accused Higashio of purposely hitting batters, since Higashio possessed excellent control, and there was no way he could accidentally hit batters so often. Higashio has maintained that he never threw a pitch with the intention of hitting the batter.

External links[edit]