Akira Ejiri (Ejirin)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 10", Weight 178 lb.
Akira Ejiri played for 15 years in Nippon Pro Baseball and was later a manager.
Ejiri tossed 46 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in college, a Tokyo Big Six University League. Joining the Taiyo Whales, he was 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA in five games as a rookie in 1965; at the plate, he was 7 for 25 with a homer and two walks. In 1966, he allowed nine hits and four runs in 6 1/3 IP and hit .303/.325/.473 in 71 games. He would be used as an outfielder for the remainder of his career. Ejiri hit just .246/.282/.380 in 1967 and .248/.281/.423 with 14 homers in 1968.
Akira made strides in 1969, with 18 homers and a .283/.319/.479 batting line. He was 9th in the Central League in average, between Toshio Naka and Kunio Fukutomi. Ejiri made his first All-Star team in 1970 and finished the year at .271/.302/.406. He was 9th in average again, this time between Kazuyoshi Yamamoto and Shigeo Nagashima. Ejiri joined Naka and Shigeru Takada as the CL's Best Nine outfielders.
The 28-year-old hit .280/.331/.362 with 17 steals in 20 tries in 1971 and led the league's outfielders in assists. He finished fifth in average, behind only Nagashima, Sachio Kinugasa, Jitsuo Mizutani and Isao Shibata. 1972 saw Ejiri put up a .265/.327/.411 batting line. He improved to .291/.340/.441 with 15 dingers in 1973. He led CL outfielders in assists again, made his second All-Star team and finished 5th in average behind Sadaharu Oh, Tsutomu Wakamatsu, Kenichi Yazawa and John Sipin. He joined Wakamatsu and Shibata as the Best Nine choices in the outfield, his second and last time to be so honored.
Ejiri remained steady at .282/.328/.392 in 1974, then hit .277/.308/.363 in 1975 (while leading the league's outfielders in assists for a third time). He fell to .250/.283/.358 in 1976 and hit .265/.332/.355 as a bench player in 1977. Ejiri was 16 for 61 with two doubles, two homers and seven walks for Taiyo in 1978 and 11 for 42 with a double and three walks to end his career in 1979.
Overall, Ejiri had produced at a .271/.317/.402 rate in 1,485 NPB games.
Ejiri was a Taiyo coach from 1981 to 1984 and also worked with the club's minor league team those years. He managed Taiyo's farm club in 1985-1986 then returned to coach for them in 1990-1991. With Taiyo at 7-15 to open 1992, Ejiri replaced Yutaka Sudo at the helm and went 54-54-1 the rest of the way. He was still replaced by Akihito Kondo following the season.
Ejiri was head coach for the Chiba Lotte Marines under Bobby Valentine in 1995. When Valentine was let go by GM Tatsuro Hirooka, Akira was promoted to manager. Replacing a successful and popular skipper, he was the subject of much abuse when the club was 60-65-3 in 1996 and was replaced by Kondo once again.
Source: Japan Baseball Daily