Keiji Nagasaki

From BR Bullpen

Keiji Nagasaki

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 176 lb.

Biographical information[edit]

Keiji Nagasaki played for 15 years in Nippon Pro Baseball, winning one batting title. He later was a coach, restaurant owner and politician.

After high school, Nagasaki was picked in the 8th round of the draft by the Hanshin Tigers but his mother encouraged him to go to college and he agreed. At Hosei University, he became the first player in the history of the Tokyo Big Six University League to win back-to-back batting titles, doing so in the spring and fall of 1972.

In 1972, Nagasaki was also chosen in the first round of the NPB draft by the Taiyo Whales. He debuted for them the next year, but only hit .222/.274/.281 in 220 plate appearances.

By 1974, he had solved Central League pitching. He batted .356/.436/.640 with 19 doubles and 13 home runs in 225 AB while stealing 8 bases in 10 tries. Had he qualified, he would have won the batting title by 24 points over Sadaharu Oh.

The left-handed outfielder became a starter in 1975, hitting .264/.351/.403 with a CL-leading 91 strikeouts. Surprisingly, his extra-base hit total fell from 35 to 32 despite increasing his AB from 225 to 406 and his run total also dropped, from 49 to 48. Keiji continued to slip in 1976 with a .236/.327/.409 batting line.

Nagasaki bounced back in 1977, hitting .266/.369/.453 and just missing a 20-20 season. He hit 19 home runs and stole 19 bases in 23 tries. He was hit by pitch 15 times, leading the CL. In 1978, he was even better with a .288/.390/.537 batting line, 27 steals (in 36 tries) and 21 home runs. He hit 8 triples, tying the Taiyo record, and 30 doubles, scoring 84 runs. He was two triples behind league leader Yoshihiko Takahashi and 7 steals behind leader Isao Shibata.

In 1979, the 29-year-old produced at a .291/.393/.464 clip with 18 steals in 27 attempts. He was among the top CL players in OBP - of the league's top 10 in batting average, only one (Masayuki Kakefu) had a better OBP.

Nagasaki slumped again in 1980 with a .233/.361/.412 batting line in 86 games, the only time in a 10-year period he did not play 100 times. In 1981, Keiji hit .292/.345/.443 and was caught in over half of his 22 steal attempts.

Nagasaki had his best OBP and average in a full season in 1982 with a .351/.419/.492 line. For the first time in six years, he did not steal 10+ bases but he had his 9th straight (and final) season with double-digit home runs. He edged Yasushi Tao in a close batting race by a single point (Tao was walked by Taiyo five times so he could not catch Nagasaki) and joined Tao and Koji Yamamoto in the Best Nine CL outfield for the year. He also made his only Central League All-Star team.

Nagasaki remained fairly productive in 1983, batting .305/.370/.420. He tied Yoshihiko Takahashi and Ryuzo Yamazaki for 8th in the league in average. At age 34, he faded quickly, only hitting .244/.323/.368 in 1984.

Nagasaki was traded to the Hanshin Tigers. Keiji hit .283/.339/.509 in 116 plate appearances and 68 games as a bench player in 1985. In his only Japan Series, the 1985 Series, Nagasaki went "just" 2 for 9 - but with a walk, a steal, 3 runs, 6 RBI and 2 home runs. One of his homers was a grand slam in the first inning of game six, the contest that gave Hanshin its first (and through 2006, only) title.

In 1986, the veteran hit .184/.250/.299 in a repeat role from 1985 and he kept the same profile in 1987, when he batted .237/.281/.458 in 60 games, almost entirely as a pinch-hitter.

Overall, Nagasaki had hit .279/.363/.449 in his NPB career with 122 steals (in 184 tries) and 146 home runs in 1,474 games (4,869 AB).

After retiring, Keiji worked as a batting coach from 1993-1995, operated a yakinku restraurant in Shinbashi and been involved in Little League. He coached for Japan in the 2000 Olympics.

In 2003, he was elected to the ward assembly of Arakawa, Tokyo, serving one term.

In 2007, Nagasaki was a proportional representation constituency candidate for the Democratic Party in the House of Councilors election. He failed to win office in a poor performance by the Democrats, who lost to the Liberal Democrats.

Sources: Japanesebaseball.com by Michael Westbay, Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland