Hiroharu Okajima

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Hiroharu Okajima

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 6", Weight 158 lb.

Infielder Hiroharu Okajima dropped out of college, then signed with the Chunichi Dragons. He debuted with 21 games in 1954 and went 6 for 26 with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 5 walks, 4 steals and 6 runs. He hit .221/.298/.325 in 70 games and 181 plate appearances in 1955.

Okajima batted .247/.343/.393 in 1956, now being used as a regular by Chunichi. He hit .242/.346/.408 with 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases but was caught stealing 21 times. He made the Central League All-Star team for the only time. He led the CL in runs (71), plate appearances (553), walks (69) and times caught stealing.

Hiroharu hit .269/.380/.440 in 1958 with 28 doubles, 16 homers, 86 runs and 47 steals (in 70 tries). He led the league in plate appearances (571), steals, walks and times caught stealing. Okajima produced at a .243/.362/.369 rate in 1959 with 72 runs, 79 walks and 41 stolen bases in 66 attempts. He led the league in walks, steals and times thrown out. He set a Nippon Pro Baseball record with the 25 times caught stealing.

The Kyoto native fell to .202/.338/.348 in 1960 and was 30-for-39 in steal attempts. He moved to the Hankyu Braves in 1961 and hit .237/.323/.337 with 21 steals in 38 tries; he led the Pacific League in times caught stealing. He improved to .270/.362/.424 with 77 runs, 38 doubles and 21 steals in 40 attempts in 1962. He led the CL in times gunned down running and doubles (tied with Kazuhiro Yamauchi).

Okajima hit .247/.344/.332 in 1963 and was hit by 9 pitches to lead the PL. In 1964, he batted .207/.283/.278. He hit .213/.277/.259 in 82 games in 1965, split between Hankyu and the Sankei Atoms.

In 1966, he hit just .207/.274/.289 for Sankei. He batted .229/.350/.288 in 79 games for the Toei Flyers in 1967 to end his career.

Overall, Okajima batted .239/.338/.360 in 1,450 games in NPB with 220 steals in 360 tries. He later became a manager in Japan's industrial leagues.

Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com