Keiji Osawa

From BR Bullpen

KeijiOhsawa.jpg

Keiji Osawa (大沢 啓二) (Oyabun)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 8", Weight 170 lbs.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Keiji Osawa played and managed in Nippon Pro Baseball for more than 20 years.

Osawa was signed by the Nankai Hawks in 1956 with a 8-million-yen signing bonus. He won a starting outfielder spot as a rookie, and hit .259/.318/.329 with 18 steals in 1956. He was also selected into the 1956 NPB All-Star Game, but went 0-for-2. Osawa was still reliable in the next three seasons, when he hit .247/.314/.331, .272/.336/.338 and .244/.278/.277 respectively. Although his batting was not outstanding, Osawa played second, third, short and the outfield, so he gained many at-bats as a key utility player. In the 1959 Nippon Series, Osawa was 2-for-5 in Game 1, but then was used as Shigeo Hasegawa's backup and only had one at-bat in the rest of the series. The Hawks beat the Yomiuri Giants, and Osawa won his first Nippon Series title.

The Kanagawa native was still productive in 1960, hitting .259/.315/.355 with 4 homers. However, he struggled in 1961 as he only recorded a terrible .163/.220/.205 batting line, and lost the starting spot. The Hawks advanced to the 1961 Nippon Series, but Osawa went 0-for-8 and they lost to the Giants in 6 games. He then served as the Hawks' main utility man, and never had more than 170 at-bats in the next three years. The Hawks wanted him to turn into a coach in 1964, but Osawa refused and transferred to the Tokyo Orions. However, he still struggled with Tokyo, then announced his retirement after hitting .183/.228/.310 in 1965.

After retiring, Osawa became the batting coach for the Orions from 1966 to 1968, and managed their minor league team from 1969 to 1971. The Orions swapped him and their big club manager Wataru Nonin on July 23 in 1971. Osawa led the team to a tie with PL leader Hankyu Braves on August 4, and the team gave him a five-year contract. However, the Orions struggled in ;[1972 in Japanese Baseball|1972]] as their winning percentage was .465, and Osawa was fired.

The Nippon Ham Fighters then hired Osawa as their new manager in 1976. He led the Fighters had a .512 winning percentage in 1979, only a game behind the second half-season winner Kintetsu Buffaloes. They improved to 68-54 and won the second half in 1981, then beat the first-half winner Lotte Orions to advance to the 1981 Nippon Series. The Yomiuri Giants beat them in 6 games. The Fighters won the second half of the 1982 season, but lost to the Seibu Lions in 4 games in the playoffs. Osawa resigned after the Fighters only went 44-73 in 1984. He was the General Manager of the Fighters from 1985 to 1992, then managed the team again from 1993 to 1994. Osawa left the team after the Fighters only recorded a .368 winning percentage in 1994.

Overall, Osawa hit .241/.297/.307 with 501 hits in 10 years in NPB. He was 725-723-99 with a pennant as a manager.

His granddaughter Akane Osawa is an actress and model and was featured on a baseball card for throwing out the first pitch at a game.

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