Akira Noguchi

From BR Bullpen

Akira Noguchi

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 8", Weight 151 lb.

The older brother of Jiro Noguchi, Wataru Noguchi and Noboru Noguchi, Akira Noguchi was on a high school powerhouse that won the Koshien Tournament three years in a row. In high school, Akira once caught 25 innings in a single game. When the Japan Baseball League began play in 1936, Noguchi pitched for the Tokyo Senators, going 8-4, 2.25. That fall, he slipped to 7-9, 3.03. he was one of the top pitchers in the spring of 1937, going 19-7 with a 1.58 ERA at the age of 19 and leading the league in games (37) and innings (257). He was fifth in ERA and possibly second in wins. In the fall, Akira had a 15-15, 2.90 line and led in just about all the counting stats - innings (235 1/3), games (35), wins, losses, complete games (20), hits allowed (223) and homers surendered (11). He would rarely pitch again and his career pitching record in Nippon Pro Baseball was 48-40, 2.54.

After not playing from 1938-1941, Noguchi re-emerged as a first baseman with Taiyo in 1942, hitting .221/.286/.317. The next season, he improved to .233/.333/.346 and led the league in both triples (8) and RBI (42) and was 8th in average. In '44, Akira hit .238/.323/.336 for Hankyu and led in at-bats (143) in the season, shortened as it was by World War II.

When baseball returned to Japan in 1946, Akira hit .243/.288/.339 and he followed that with a .253/.304/.314 season. In 1947, he also became the first man in Nippon Pro Baseball history to hit an inside-the-park grand slam, on July 3. Akira's best average came in 1948 (.277/.330/.381). In 1949, he moved to the Chunichi Dragons and batted .258/.301/.364.

In 1950, Chunichi joined the new Central League and Noguchi continued to lend a hand at .271/.313/.431 with a career-best 18 HR, 65 R and 73 RBI. In '51, Akira hit .265/.314/.375 and set a CL record for errors by a catcher, with 18 miscues. He made the Best Nine as the CL backstop and also made the first Central League All-Star team. Again an All-Star and Best Nine selection in 1952, the 34-year-old veteran hit .269/.326/.399. In '53, he was an All-Star once more and had a .269/.329/.338 year. In his fourth All-Star season, he fell to .236/.293/.297 in 1954.

In 1955, Akira was appointed as Chunichi's manager, replacing Shunichi Amachi. He went 0 for 2 in his last playing time (finishing his career at .251/.310/.351) and guided the club to a 77-51-1 second-place finish, 15 games behind a superb Yomiuri Giants team. They fell slightly in 1956 (74-56, third place, 8 games out) and Noguchi retired after that season, replaced by Amachi. Noguchi had proven himself successful as a pitcher, catcher and manager in the professional ranks.

Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland