Koji Okamura

From BR Bullpen

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Koji Okamura

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 176 lb.

Koji Okamura played in Nippon Pro Baseball for 14 years and made 5 All-Star teams. He was born in China but moved to Japan at age six. Okamura debuted in NPB for the Hankyu Braves in 1961, hitting .182/.231/.230 in 90 games. In 1962, he was 7 for 58 with a walk. He hit .234/.286/.327 in 1963 as a regular. In 1964, the Braves catcher batted .228/.279/.336 and made the Pacific League All-Star team; it was the heart of a pitcher's era so his numbers would have looked better at a different period of time. He hit only .177/.252/.278 in 1965.

At age 25, Okamura hit .229/.304/.291 in 1966. In 1967, he batted .222/.260/.353. He made his second All-Star team. He hit .333/.333/.500 as one of Hankyu's top performers in the 1967 Japan Series, their first Japan Series; they fell in 6 games despite his efforts. In game six, Okamura's homer was one bright spot in a 9-3 loss.

In 1968, Koji batted .244/.308/.385 with 15 home runs. He went only 1 for 20 in the 1968 Japan Series. Okamura had a career year in 1969, batting .262/.315/.403 with 15 HR and 61 RBI. He beat out Katsuya Nomura for the Best Nine at catcher in the Pacific League, the only time from 1956-1973 that Nomura failed to win the honor. Okamura also made his third All-Star team. In the 1969 Japan Series, Okamura hit .278/.409/.333 but Hankyu again fell to the dynastic Yomiuri Giants. In game four, he was ejected after bumping umpire Isao Okada while arguing a safe call on Shozo Doi at home. He became the first player ever ejected from a Japan Series. A photo later showed that Doi was safe.

Okamura batted .229/.290/.321 in 1970 and made his 4th All-Star team. In 1971, he concluded his 11-year stint with Hankyu, hitting .222/.301/.307 and making his last All-Star squad. He ground into 19 double plays, leading the league. In the 1971 Japan Series, he was 2 for 13 with 2 walks and a time hit by pitch.

Moving to the Toei Flyers in 1972, Koji hit .198/.243/.278 in 65 games. In 72 games in 1973, he batted .208/.314/.289. He went 5 for 30 with 2 doubles in 1974 to finish his career.

Overall, Okamura hit .224/.284/.324 with 85 homers in 1,370 games in NPB.

Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland