October 1, 1922|
|Died: June 24, 1999(aged 76)|
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|JPBL: 1942 for the Nankai|
|Last professional appearance|
|NPB: 1960 for the Yomiuri Giants|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Election Method||Selection Committee for Players|
Takehiko Bessho (別所 毅彦 Bessho Takehiko, October 1, 1922 -June 24, 1999 ), born Akira Bessho (別所昭, Bessho Akira), was a Japanese sportsperson whose professional career as a player lasted from 1942 until 1960. Bessho first achieved fame as a pitcher in Nippon Pro Baseball (NPB); later, he served as a NPB manager.
Bessho spent his first five seasons in NPB with the Nankai franchise (1942–43, 1946–48) and his final 12 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants (1949–1960). He quickly established himself as top pitcher and went on to earn two Sawamura Awards, the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young Award, and six Best Nine Awards. In 1947, Bessho set the NPB record for most complete games in a single season (47). In addition, Bessho earned the NPB Most Valuable Player Award in 1952 and 1956. Bessho retired after the 1960 season with 310 wins, a 2.18 earned run average, and 1,932 strikeouts.
Raised solely by his mother, Besho grew up in a in Kobe, Hyogo Japan and went by the name Akira Bessho. Bessho started his athletic career by playing nanshiki ball while he was in the fifth grade in an elementary school. By the time he started his high school career at Takikawa Junior Highschool, Bessho had transitioned from nanshiki to baseball.
In 1940 and 1941, Bessho appeared in the Koshien tournament. During the 1941 spring edition, he pitched all fourteen innings of a game despite his broken arm; unfortunately, he also lost the decision. After his graduation, Bessho took the entrance exam for Keio University but ultimately enrolled in vocational classes at Nihon University.
In 1942, Besho joined the Nankai franchise, an Osaka based team in the Japanese Baseball League (JBL). Bessho quickly established himself as a quality player and on May 26, 1943, he successfully pitched a no-hitter against the Yamato team.
In December of that year, the Japanese army conscripted Bessho and sent him to Manchuria because of World War II. However, in 1944, Bessho moved to the officer's school in Matsudo, Chiba before the army finally moved him to the Kōchi Prefecture. After the war had ended, Bessho rejoined Nankai in 1946.
In 1947 he won and completed 47 games, it has been the best record in Nippon Pro Baseball until now and of which he was proud for long years. In the late of 1948 he moved to Yomiuri Giants, Tokyo based another baseball team. It became a big scandal in Japanese sports journalism known as Bessho head-hunting Incident (ja: 別所引き抜き事件) which led the League to put a sanction on him to prohibit to playing two months. In Yomiuri Giants, he was still a star. He was also so good at batting that the manager had him play as a batter when he didn't throw. During his lifetime, he won 310 games, that was the national record when he retired.
In 1956, the Los Angeles Dodgers, a Major League Baseball franchise, decided to play a series of games in Japan. On October 23, 1956, the Dodgers faced the Yomiuri Giants at Maruyama Stadium in Sapporo. Carl Erskine started for the Dodgers, and Sho Horiuchi started for the Giants. In the seventh inning, Bessho replaced Horiuchi and pitched the rest of the game. Unfortunately, Bessho surrendered a solo-home run to Duke Snider in the top of the ninth inning; it was the only run of the game.
In 1961 he was a player and pitching coach of Yomiuri Giants. At the end of season he retired and remained at the team as coach. From 1964 till 1966 he was a pitching coach at Taiyō Whales. From 1968 he led Sankei Atoms (and its successors) as the manager until mid-1970. From then he give commentaries at Fuji TV, Bunka Hōsō and Nikkan Sports. 1979 he was nominated to Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. Since 1992 he succeeded to the president of Yomiuri Giants Old Boy Club from Tetsuharu Kawakami.
During his career, Bessho won six Best Nine Awards, more than any other pitcher in history. In addition, he won two MVP awards, led the league in strikeouts from 1950 until 1952, and won 20 or more games eight different seasons. He performed at a high enough level that he led the NPB in wins three times and in ERA, strikeouts and winning percentage once each.
As commentator, he was known with his cheerful loud laughter, grayed hair and apparent but innocent favoritism to Yomiuri Giants. It was often he didn't remember non-Giants players in their names.
In 1999 he died at his home at the age of 76.
Records and awards
- Lifetime records as pitcher: playing in 662 games (335 completed), 310 wins, 178 losses, winning average .635, ERA 2.18
- Lifetime records as batter: playing in 828 games, batting average .254, 500 hits, 35 home-runs, 91 walks, 2 hit-by-pitch, RBI 248
- No-hitter: 1943-05-26 (from Yamato Team)
- Central League (Japan) Most Valuable Player Award: 1952, 1956
- Sawamura Award: 1947, 1955
- Best Nine Award (Pitcher): 1947, 1948, 1951, 1952, 1955, 1956
- "Takehiko Bessho Cards". robsjapanesecards.com. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2007.
- "Past Hawks Stars". baywell.ne.jp. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2007.
- "Cases for Cooperstown". baseballguru.com. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2007.
- "Pitching info". japanbaseballdaily.com. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2007.
- "Box score". walteromalley.com. Retrieved Sept. 6, 2007.
- Nippon Professional Baseball career statistics from Japanesebaseball.com