Ochiai in 2007
|Born: December 9, 1953|
Wakami, Akita, Japan
|May 29, 1979, for the Lotte Orions|
|October 7, 1998, for the Nippon Ham Fighters|
As general manager
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the Japanese|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
Hiromitsu Ochiai (落合 博満 Ochiai Hiromitsu, born December 9, 1953) is a former Japanese professional baseball player. He is former manager of the Chunichi Dragons in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball. He is considered to be one of the most important players in the history of Japanese baseball, winning numerous batting awards and being the only player to receive the prestigious triple crown batting award three times. With 510 career home runs, Ochiai is sixth on the all-time NPB list.
Ochiai was born in the town of Wakami in Akita, Japan, a rice-farming area of northern Honshū. Ochiai was the youngest of seven children and grew up enjoying spending time in the cinema rather than on the baseball field. At Toyo University, he quit after one year as he did not approve of the traditional way freshman players had to cater to the senior players on the team. He joined Toshiba Fuchu, a team in the Japanese industrial league, after leaving Toyo University and went back to his home town and spent some years as a professional bowler.
In 1978, at 25 years old, the third baseman joined Lotte Orions after being selected in the third round of the draft. The Lotte manager did not care for his unorthodox right-handed batting style and Masaichi Kaneda criticized Ochiai, but Isao Harimoto supported Ochiai and Ochiai did not quit. From 1981, Ochiai played a regular role for his team, and in 1982 he won his first triple crown batting title. He also won the Triple crown in 1985 and 1986, and continued winning titles through 1991.
In 1987, Ochiai was traded to the Chunichi Dragons by the Lotte Orions. During the 1994 season, the Yomiuri Giants picked up Ochiai as a free agent. After the Giants signed Kazuhiro Kiyohara in 1997, Ochiai joined the Nippon-Ham Fighters at the age of 43. At the conclusion of the 1998 season, Ochiai retired.
Ochiai's style is called Oreryu(オレ流). Oreryu means "to do with only my style." The word described how he acted according to his personal philosophies.
Hiromitsu Ochiai has been the manager of the Chunichi Dragons since 2004. He led the Dragons to the Japan Series during his inaugural year as manager in 2004, again in 2006, and led them to victory on the third try in 2007. His contract was not renewed after leading the Dragons to within a game of winning the 2011 Japan Series. He was often criticized for his decision-making, such as removing starting pitcher Daisuke Yamai to start the ninth inning of game five of the 2007 Japan Series. Yamai had been pitching a perfect game. Closer Hitoki Iwase finished off the ninth for a rare combined perfect game to clinch the championship for the Dragons.
Ochiai was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011. The Hiromitsu Ochiai Baseball Hall opened in Taiji, Wakayama in 1993 starting a trend of museums dedicated to famous ballplayers.
On October 9, 2013, Ochiai was appointed general manager of the Chunichi Dragons. On December 20, 2016 it was announced that Ochiai would step down from his role as general manager at the end of his contract in January 2017.
Awards and accomplishments
- MVP (1982, 1985)
- Triple Crown (1982, 1985, 1986)
- Batting Title (1981~1983, 1985, 1986)
- Home run Title (1982, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1991)
- Run batted in Title (1982, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990)
- On-base percentage Title (1982, 1985~1988, 1990, 1991)
- Best Nine Award (1981~1986, 1988~1991)
- Matsutaro Shoriki Award (2007)
Career batting statistics
- donga.com ["Korean Hitter with Odd Stance Meets Manager Who Had One Too." 02 Mar 2007, Dong-a Ilbo, The.]
- Coskey, Jason."Ochiai bows out after eight years in charge of Dragons." 25 Nov 2011: Japan Times, The.
- Coskey, Jason. "Dragons clinch Japan Series: Yamai, Iwase combine for perfect game." 02 Nov 2007: Japan Times, The. 
- Normile, Dennis. "Museum Showcases Ichiro's Baseball Career." 27 Aug 2012: New York Times, The.
- Graczyk, Wayne. "Tanishige to become rare player-manager for Dragons." 19 October 2013: The Japan Times.
- "Dragons GM Ochiai leaving team". Japan Times. KYODO. 20 December 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
- Nippon Professional Baseball career statistics from JapaneseBaseball.com