Kohei Sugiyama (杉山 光平)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 8", Weight 154 lb.
Kohei Sugiyama was a four-time Best Nine selection.
Sugiyama signed with the Kintetsu Pearls in 1952 and hit .293/.320/.448 in part-time action as a rookie. He batted .246/.282/.349 in 93 games in 1953 and was 0 for 8 in 1954. He was then traded to the Nankai Hawks. He became a regular and did well, homering 16 times, driving 90 and batting .278/.310/.432 in 1955. He was 9th in the Pacific League in runs (70, between Hiroshi Oshita and Osamu Takechi), tied Shoichi Busujima for 9th in hits (145), tied Kihachi Enomoto for 6th in home runs and ranked third in RBI (after Kazuhiro Yamauchi and Futoshi Nakanishi). He was named to the Best Nine as the PL's top first baseman. He was 6 for 24 with a double, walk, run and 3 RBI in the 1955 Japan Series as Nankai fell in 7 games to the Yomiuri Giants.
In 1956, Sugiyama moved from first base to the outfield but kept on rolling. He made his first PL All-Star team, hitting 5th in both 1956 NPB All-Star Games, going a combined 1-for-3 with two walks. He finished the season at .303/.349/.434 with 28 doubles, 72 runs and 93 RBI. He set a Nippon Pro Baseball record with 154 games played (tied with Tokuji Iida and Shinya Sasaki); the PL would condense their schedule in later years. He made the PL leaderboards for average (4th, between Yamauchi and Katsuki Tokura), runs (8th), hits (156, 3rd after Sasaki and Yasumitsu Toyoda), doubles (tied for 3rd with Bunjiro Sakamoto, Sasaki and Toyoda), home runs (12, tied for 8th with Kosei Komori and Toyoda), RBI (2nd, two shy of Nakanishi), sacrifice flies (8, tied for 2nd, one behind Tokura), intentional walks (10, 3rd), OBP (5th, between Nakanishi and Tsutomu Kimura), slugging (6th, between Seiji Sekiguchi and Tokura) and OPS (5th, between Enomoto and Tokura). He joined Tokura and Yamauchi as the Best Nine picks in the outfield. Nankai fell a half-game behind the Nishitetsu Lions in a tight pennant race.
The Shizuoka native fell to .271/.321/.306 with no homers in 84 games in 1957. His power did not return in 1958 (4 HR) but he improved his batting line to .299/.352/.381. He started in right field and hit third in the first 1958 NPB All-Star Game but went 0 for 3 before being replaced by Takao Yato in a 5-2 loss to the Central League. He was 0 for 2 hitting second in a 8-3 game 2 win before Yato replaced him. For the season, he was 5th in average (between Akitoshi Kodama and Stanley Hashimoto), tied Katsuya Nomura for 9th in runs (56), tied Busijima for 4th with 135 hits, was 9th in RBI (54, between Jack Ladra and Hachiro Yamamoto) and was 4th in OBP (between Shigeo Hasegawa and Kodama). He again made the Best Nine, this time joined in the outfield by Busijima and Sekiguchi.
Sugiyama produced at a .323/.360/.469 clip with 67 runs, 67 RBI and 7 triples in 1959. He won the batting title in the PL that year (by .003 over Yamauchi). He was also 6th in OBP (between Enomoto and Kenjiro Tamiya), 6th in slugging (between Yoshio Anabuki and Akio Saionji), 5th in OPS (between Saionji and Anabuki), 8th in runs, 8th in hits (135), tied for 4th in three-baggers and 6th in RBI (between Yamauchi and Anabuki). He joined Sekiguchi and Teruyuki Takakura on the Best Nine. He starred in the 1959 Japan Series, going 6 for 14 with a double, triple, three walks, three runs and two RBI as Nankai swept Yomiuri. The Series MVP, though, was Tadashi Sugiura, who won all four games.
Kohei slumped to .246/.289/.323 in 1960. He had a rebound season in 1961 - .321/.388/.496, 15 HR, 76 RBI. He made his third and last All-Star team. In the first 1961 NPB All-Star Game, he pinch-hit for Glenn Mickens and got a hit off Noboru Akiyama in a 3-0 win. In Game 2, a 4-2 win, he batted for Kazuhisa Inao and drew a walk from Ritsuo Horimoto. He finished 4th in the league in average (between Tamiya and Yamauchi), 5th in OBP (between Enomoto and Tamiya), 4th in slugging (between Nomura and Saionji), 4th in OPS (between Toyoda and Nomura), tied Takakura for 10th in homers and was 6th in RBI (between Katsutoyo Yoshida and Masahira Nakata). He became the 66th NPB player to appear in 1,000 games. He was 5 for 24 with a double, homer (off Horimoto in game 4), 3 runs and 3 RBI in the 1961 Japan Series; Nankai dropped it in six to Yomiuri.
Just like the other two times he had hit .300, Sugiyama slipped after his third .300 campaign - he moved to the Hankyu Braves in 1962 and hit .255/.305/.323. He still tied Takao Katsuragi for 10th in the league in RBI (62). He hit .240/.318/.365 in 1963. Returning to Nankai in 1964, he produced at a .261/.335/.341 clip. He was 1 for 3 as a bench player in the 1964 Japan Series as the Hawks downed the Hanshin Tigers in seven games; the starting outfielders were Shozo Higuchi, Yoshinori Hirose and Motoaki Horigome.
In 1965, the veteran slumped to .189/.230/.274 as a backup for Nankai. As a player-batting coach in 1966, he finished on a fair note (.267/.294/.404 in 154 PA). He had hit .279/.327/.393 with 88 home runs, 547 runs and 675 RBI in 1,485 NPB games. After baseball, he ran a restaurant. Through 2011, he was tied for 90th in league history with 42 sacrifice flies (even with Tadahito Iguchi, Hirotoshi Kitagawa, Leon Lee and Jitsuo Mizutani) and tied for 80th in triples (39, even with Tatsuro Hiroka, Kimura, Kingo Motoyashiki, Satoshi Sugiyama and Kensuke Tanaka).