Katsuki Tokura

From BR Bullpen

Katsuki Tokura

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 7", Weight 151 lb.

Katsuki Tokura played right field in Nippon Pro Baseball for nine years and later managed.

Tokura's pro debut was one for the history books. On March 11, 1950, the 36-year-old got into his first game as a pro, with the Mainichi Orions. He homered off Isamu Kinoshita in his first at-bat - the blast was the first circuit clout in the just-founded Pacific League. For the year, Tokura hit .263/.309/.502 with 21 homers, 22 steals (in 34 tries), 9 triples, 90 runs and 96 RBI. He was 3 for 6 with a walk in the 1950 Japan Series as Mainichi won the first Japan Series, topping the Shochiku Robins.

Moving to the Hankyu Braves in 1951, Tokura produced at a .219/.285/.383 rate and made the first PL All-Star team. He rebounded to .301/.348/.442 with 25 swipes in 30 attempts in 1952 and was 8th in the league in average. He hit .269/.310/.413 with 13-for-14 in steals in 1953 and was again an All-Star.

In 1954, the old-timer had a .300/.348/.451 batting line with 79 RBI. He was 5th in the circuit in average behind larry Raines, Hiroshi Oshita, Kozo Kawai and Kazuhiro Yamauchi. 1955 was another good year as he hit .321/.363/.452 with 21 steals and 9 triples. He set the NPB record for best average for a player 40 years or older. He made his third All-Star team, led the league in sacrifice flies (8), was third in average (behind Futoshi Nakanishi and Yamauchi) and joined Tokuji Iida and Yamauchi as the Best Nine picks in the outfield.

Tokura fell to .293/.337/.417 at age 42 in 1956 and again led in sac flies (9). He was again fifth in average, trailing Yasumitsu Toyoda, Nakanishi, Yamauchi and Kohei Sugiyama, and made his last All-Star team. He again was picked to the Best Nine, joining Sugiyama and Yamauchi as the outfielders. In his last season, 1957, the old-timer hit .266/.327/.382 in 78 games. Overall, he had batted .283/.331/.435 in 907 games in NPB, with 115 steals in 160 tries, 507 RBI and 75 homers.

Tokura replaced Giichi Hayashi as Hankyu's manager partway into 1959 and went 21-27-2. He remained at the reigns in 1960 (65-65-6), 1961 (53-84-3) and 1962 (60-70-1). He was replaced by Yukio Nishimoto after the '62 season. In 1967, he managed the Tokyo Orions for part of the year (27-38-5); Wataru Nonin was their pilot the rest of the campaign.

Source: Japan Baseball Daily