Fumio Fujimura (藤村 富美男)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 173 lbs.
- High School Goko High School
Fumio Fujimura is a Japanese Baseball Hall of Famer who played in Nippon Pro Baseball for 17 years. He was the first player to be called the Mr. Tigers.
Fujimura was a superstar in the Summer Koshien. He led Goko High School when they won it in 1934, and set the Koshien record when he struck out 19 in a game (broken by Yuki Matsui in 2012). He planned to go to the Hosei University, but the newly founded Osaka Tigers gave him a well-paying contract, so he turned pro. Fujimura was a two-way player in the first year of the Japanese Professional Baseball League, and he recorded the first shutout ever in Japanese baseball history with a one-hitter. He also blasted 2 homers with a .346/.433/.519 batting line in the fall of 1936, and became the first player to win the home run title. (The award for the home run king didn't exist in the spring season).
The Hiroshima native extended his elite performance in 1937. He recorded a 1.30 ERA in 55 1/3 innings in the spring, and had a 3.38 ERA in 5 appearances in fall. As a batter, he hit .238/.350/.371 and .317/.368/.444 respectively. Fujimura led the JPBL with 32 runs in the spring, then collected a league-leading 11 doubles in the fall of the 1938 seasons. However, he was enlisted into the Army and missed the next four seasons. After going back to the field, Fujimura took a while to return to form and his batting line fell to .202/.283/.250 in 1943. He bounced back with a .315/.407/.377 in 1944, and led the league with 25 RBI. The league then shut down due to World War II.
After the baseball games resumed in 1946, Fujimura became a two-way player again because the Tigers lost many pitchers. He was 13-2 with a 2.44 ERA on the mound, and hit .323/.401/.509 with a record-setting 31 doubles in the plate. He was also the player-manager, then Tadashi Wakabayashi took over as the new manager. The talented infielder shined in 1947, and became the main cleanup hitter of the Tigers. This Tigers' lineup was called the strongest lineup in team history, and Fujimura collected a league-leading 71 RBI with a .274/.329/.387 batting line. He broke the NPB record again for doubles, this time with 36 doubles, and won his first Best Nine award as a third baseman.
Fujimura decided to use a longer bat starting in 1948, and he improved to .290/.331/.470 with 13 homers and 13 triples. He completed the first cycle in NPB history on October 2, and became the first player to collect more than 100 RBI. He also set the NPB records for 572 at-bats and 48 extra-base hits in a season, and won the Best Nine again. "Mr. Tigers" astonished the whole league in 1949. He blasted 46 homers with 142 RBI, 187 hits and 366 total bases - all breaking the NPB records. His batting line was .332/.388/.650, and he also had the highest slugging ever. He won his third consecutive Best Nine award, and won the JPBL MVP, of course.
When the JPBL split into two leagues, many outstanding players for the Tigers followed their manager Wakabayashi and jumped to the Mainichi Orions (ex. Hall of Famer Shosei Go). However, when The Orions tried to persuade Fujimura, he just said that "I'm Fujimura of the Tigers". He was still outstanding in 1950, hitting .362/.465/.674 and won his only Central League batting title (becoming the first CL batting champ). He blasted 39 homers and 146 RBI in this season, but Makoto Kozuru beat him with 51 homers and 161 RBI (still a NPB record as of 2023). His 146 RBI are the most among those who didn't led the league in RBI. He also became the first player to hit for a cycle in the two-league era, doing so on May 25.
Fujimura was selected into the first NPB All-Star Game - the 1951 NPB All-Star Games, but he only went 2-for-11. He ended up hitting .320/.424/.568 with 23 homers in 1951, ranked 5th in batting (.057 behind Tetsuharu Kawakami), 4th in homers (9 behind Noboru Aota), 2nd in RBI (8 behind Aota) and won his fifth consecutive Best Nine award. He went 1-for-12 in the 1952 NPB All-Star Game, and recorded a .314/.393/.505 batting line in the 1952 season.
When Shinsuke Yogi joined the team, Fujimura was moved to first base in 1953, and he had another productive season. He blasted 27 homers with a .294/.380/.532 batting line, and led the league in RBI, homers and total bases. However, he lost the Best Nine award to batting title winner Tetsuharu Kawakami. He also became the first player to blast a grand slam in back-to-back games, doing so on April 28 and April 29.
The Hiroshima native attended the 1954 NPB All-Star Game, and blasted a homer off Atsushi Aramaki in his only at-bat in Game 1. He recorded a .273/.323/.457 batting line for the year, ranked 3rd in homers (10 behind Aota) and 6th in RBI (27 behind Satoru Sugiyama and Hiroyuki Watanabe). He became a player-manager again in 1955, but he still hit .269/.345/.484 with 27 homers. He only 51 games in 1956 because he wanted to focus on managing the team, but he still blast the only mpinch-hit walk-off grand slam by a manager, which he did on June 24.
After the 1956 season, several Tigers' players, including superstars Masayasu Kaneda and Juzo Sanada, requested that the team fire Fujimura. Although the Tigers chose to release Sanada, Fujimura was still replaced by Yoshio Tanaka in 1958 and became a player again. However, he was only 3-for-26 in that season, and then announced his retirement to retain his career batting average at over .300. The Tigers retired his Number 10 in the same year. After retiring, he became the batting coach for the Kokutetsu Swallows in 1963, and worked for the Toei Flyers from 1964 to 1965 and in 1968. He also managed the Flyers' minor league team in 1967. He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.
Overall, Fujimura had hit .300/.374/.501 with 1,694 hits and 224 homers in 17 seasons in NPB. He was 266-190-6 as a manager.