Victor Starffin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Victor Starffin
Victor Starffin 2.jpg
Pitcher
Born: (1916-05-01)May 1, 1916
Nizhny Tagil, Perm Governorate, Russian Empire
Died: January 12, 1957(1957-01-12) (aged 40)
Tokyo, Japan
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Professional debut
NPB: 1936 for the Tokyo Kyojingun
Last professional appearance
July 12, 1955 for the Tombow Unions
NPB statistics
Win-Loss 303-176
ERA 2.09
Strikeouts 1960
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Inducted 1960

Victor Starffin (Russian: Виктор Константинович Старухин, tr. Viktor Konstantinovich Starukhin,[1] May 1, 1916 - January 12, 1957), nicknamed "the blue-eyed Japanese" (青い目の日本人 aoi-me no Nihonjin?), was an ethnic Russian baseball player in Japan and the first professional pitcher in Japan to win three hundred games.[2][3]

Biography[edit]

Born in Nizhny Tagil, Ural area of Russian Empire, Viktor Starffin moved with his family to northern Hokkaidō, where he attended Asahikawa Higashi High School after the Russian Revolution.[4] Although he wanted to get into Waseda University, he was first scouted by Matsutaro Shoriki in the autumn of 1934 as a member of the national baseball team for an exhibition game against the United States that year. At the time, the Ministry of Education had a regulation stating that high school baseball players who played professionally would forfeit their eligibility to enter higher education, and so Starffin was reluctant to turn pro. However, the family had entered Japan on transit visas, and his father, Konstantin Starffin, was in jail awaiting trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, both of which put the family at risk of deportation; Shoriki blackmailed Starffin, stating that if Starffin refused to play professionally, Shoriki would use his connections with the Yomiuri Shimbun to publicise the details of Konstantin Starffin's case.[3]

Starffin was signed by the Tōkyō Kyojingun (now the Yomiuri Giants), outside the draft, in 1936, and played for them until 1944. He was one of the premier pitchers in the Japanese baseball "dead-ball era" (pre-1945), when many of Japan's best players were serving in the Imperial Japanese Army.[3] He won two MVP awards and a Best Nine award, and won at least 26 games in six different years, winning a league record 42 games in 1939. He followed his record setting 1939 performance with another 38 wins in 1940. Later during World War II, wartime paranoia resulted in Starffin being placed in a detention camp at Karuizawa with other foreign diplomats and residents. He was already forced to change his name to be Japanized, "Suda Hiroshi", since 1940.

After short-term working as an interpreter of SCAP, he returned to professional baseball in 1946, but chose not to return to the Giants, instead signing a contract with a new team, the Pacific (an offshoot of the team now known as the Yokohama BayStars). The Pacific's contracts with some famous players, including Starffin, led to a serious conflict, and Pacific was forced to forfeit four games. However, this decision would ultimately result in the Giants losing the first Japanese championship after World War II, as one of Pacific's forfeited games had been a loss to Great Ring (now the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks); the change from a loss to a win gave Great Ring the title over the Giants.

Victor Starffin: first pitcher to win 300 games in Japanese baseball

Starffin also played for the Shochiku Robins (now the Yokohama BayStars) in 1947, Kinsei/Daiei Stars (now the Chiba Lotte Marines) after 1948, and finally signed with the Takahashi/Tombow Unions (an offshoot of today's Chiba Lotte Marines) in 1954-55. In 1955, his last season, he became the first career 300-game winner in Japanese professional baseball. He retired in 1955 with a career record of 303 wins and 176 losses.[3] After retirement, he became an actor and presenter of radio programs.

In 1957, Starffin was killed in a traffic accident when the car he was driving was struck by a tram of Tōkyū Tamagawa Line (now Tōkyū Den-en-toshi Line, as a subway), in Setagaya, Tokyo. The exact circumstances of the incident are debated to this day, with speculation ranging from a simple accident to suicide or drunk driving. In 1960, he became the first foreigner elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. Asahikawa City has nicknamed its municipal baseball stadium, as Asahikawa Starffin Stadium, since 1984.[3] Starffin is buried in Tokyo's Tama Cemetery.[5]

His firstborn daughter Natasha worked for Japan Airlines as a flight attendant, opened the first tanning bed salon in Japan, and attended the renaming ceremony of the stadium nicknamed from her father, as a pitcher with uniform number 17, same as Viktor. She is now a dietitian.

Professional Statistics[edit]

Year Team G W L IP K BB HR ERA
1936 Summer Kyojin 1 0 0 3.0 4 1 0 0.00
1936 Autumn Kyojin 3 1 2 21.0 19 7 0 3.00
1937 Summer Kyojin 25 13 4 147.1 92 58 1 1.53
1937 Autumn Kyojin 26 15 7 164.2 95 51 0 1.86
1938 Summer Kyojin 24 14 3 158.2 76 57 5 2.04
1938 Autumn Kyojin 24 19 2 197.2 146 59 0 1.05
1939 Kyojin 68 42 15 458.1 282 156 4 1.73
1940 Kyojin 55 38 12 436.0 245 145 3 0.97
1941 Kyojin 20 15 3 150.0 58 45 3 1.20
1942 Kyojin 40 26 8 306.1 110 119 3 1.12
1943 Kyojin 18 10 5 136.0 71 57 2 1.19
1944 Kyojin 7 6 0 66.0 27 23 0 0.68
1946 Pacific 5 1 1 31.2 11 16 1 1.99
1947 Taiyo 20 8 10 162.1 77 48 3 2.05
1948 Kinsei 37 17 13 298.1 138 80 6 2.17
1949 Daiei 52 27 17 376.0 163 69 24 2.61
1950 Daiei 35 11 15 234.1 86 48 21 3.96
1951 Daiei 14 6 6 100.2 47 22 5 2.68
1952 Daiei 24 8 10 150.1 44 43 9 3.05
1953 Daiei 26 11 9 201.2 61 42 11 2.68
1954 Takahashi 29 8 13 178.1 52 45 12 3.73
1955 Tombow 33 7 21 196.2 56 30 9 3.89
Total 586 303 176 4175.1 1960 1221 122 2.09

*Bold = lead league

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.sports.ru/tribuna/blogs/insignificance/204537.html (Russian)
  2. ^ "Victor Starffin". Japan Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Reaves, Joseph A. (2002). Taking in a Game: A History of Baseball in Asia. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 70–71. ISBN 0-8032-3943-2. 
  4. ^ http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sb20080720wg.html
  5. ^ http://www6.plala.or.jp/guti/cemetery/AREA/list_00.html (Japanese)

Further reading[edit]

  • Puff, Richard. "The Amazing Story of Victor Starffin". The National Pastime, no. 12 (1992), pp. 17–20. ISBN 0-910137-48-X.

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Haruyasu Nakajima
Japanese Baseball League MVP
19391940
Succeeded by
Tetsuharu Kawakami