Hiroshi Shintani (新谷博)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 170 lb.
Hiroshi Shintani was a one-time All-Star in Japan.
Shintani almost threw the first perfect game in Koshien Tournament history in 1982, hitting a batter with two outs in the 9th to blow it. He was picked by the Yakult Swallows in the second round that year but opted for college. After winning 16 games in college, he joined Nihon Seimei in the industrial leagues. He took them to a national title one year, winning MVP honors.
In the 1991 Intercontinental Cup, Shintani took two of Japan's three losses in their 8-3 performance. He had a 2.41 ERA, only slightly worse than the team average. The losses came because he was the only Japanese hurler trusted to start versus Cuba. In his first game, he lost a 3-0 duel to Omar Ajete, all the runs coming on homers by Juan Padilla. Facing Ajete in the Gold Medal game, he was far better and led 3-1 going into the bottom of the 9th, but allowed two in the ninth and two in the tenth to lose it. Three of the five runs charged to him were unearned and he struck out nine. Had he held on to win, it would have marked Cuba's only loss from 1991 through 1996.
Nine years after he was first drafted, the Seibu Lions took the industrial league veteran in the second round in 1991. He signed this time. As a rookie in 1992, Shintani fanned 108 in 108 2/3 innings and was 4-8 with two saves and a 3.31 ERA. Had he qualified, he would have been 9th in the Pacific League in ERA. His record was surprisingly poor considering his ERA and the fact that Seibu was 80-47 as a team. In the 1992 Japan Series, he was used as a reliever and allowed six hits but only one run in three innings as Seibu won it all.
In 1993, Shintani was luckier, going 8-1 with a 3.08 ERA. Had he qualified, he would have been 6th in the PL in ERA. In the 1993 Japan Series, he relieved Taigen Kaku in game two with a 4-2 deficit to the Swallows in the top of the third. He allowed only one run in the next seven and struck out seven but Seibu still lost. They wound up falling in seven games.
The right-hander went 10-8 with nine saves, .208 opponent average and a 2.91 ERA as a swingman in 1994. He made his only PL All-Star team and led the league in ERA, .13 over Hideki Irabu. Despite that fine work, Hiroshi only saw one relief stint in the 1994 Japan Series, tossing 3 2/3 shutout innings as the Lions fell to the Yomiuri Giants in six games.
Moving to the rotation more regularly in 1995, Shintani went 11-11 with a save, .214 average allowed and 2.93 ERA. He was 6th in the league in ERA between Shigetoshi Hasegawa and Kip Gross; of the top 7 in ERA that year, he and Kaku were the only ones who would not pitch in the US majors during their careers.
In 1996, Shintani went 11-5 with two saves and a 3.41 ERA. He tied Masaru Imazeki for the PL lead with 23 homers allowed. He was 10th in the league in ERA. In 1997, he struggled, going 2-2 with a 6.61 ERA and .314 opponent average in 17 games. He surprisingly started game four of the 1997 Japan Series and allowed three runs in four innings to the Swallows in taking the loss.
Returning to good form in 1998, the 33/34-year-old had a 5-8, 3.67 record. If he qualified, he would've been 9th in the circuit in ERA. In the 1998 Japan Series, his last Series, he appeared only in a game five rout by the Yokohama BayStars, giving up ten hits, three walks and ten runs in the final three innings to cap a 17-5 blow-out. Shintani's woes continued into 1999, when he faced 17 batters and allowed 11 hits, a walk and 12 runs for a 74.25 ERA.
Overall, Shintani was 54-47 with 14 saves and a 3.64 ERA in 238 games in Nippon Pro Baseball.
After retiring as a player, Shintani had many roles in the following decade. He coached for Nippon Ham. In 2005, he became head coach of Shobi Gakuen University's women's baseball team. He was pitching coach for Japan in the 2008 Women's Baseball World Cup (when they won their first Gold ever in the event) and 2010 Women's Baseball World Cup. He then managed Japan to a Gold in the 2012 Women's Baseball World Cup. He has also been a baseball commentator for Hokkaido Broadcasting and Sky Broadcasting.
Primary Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland