Masayasu Kaneda

From BR Bullpen

Masayasu Kaneda

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 7", Weight 150 lb.

Masayasu Kaneda was a three-time Best Nine selection.

Kaneda debuted with the Hanshin Tigers in 1942, hitting a meek .148/.288/.197. He improved to .246/.368/.319 in 1943 then batted .193/.323/.325 in 1944. When the league returned after World War II, Kaneda exploded in 1946, hitting .347/.426/.457 with 13 triples. On July 25, he set a Nippon Pro Baseball record with two triples in an inning. He led the Japanese Professional Baseball League in hits (152) and average and trailed Seiichi Suzuki by one for the most triples.

Kaneda hit .311/.412/.419 with 11 triples, 66 walks and 19 steals in 1947, losing the batting title by .004 to Hiroshi Oshita. He tied Oshita for the league lead in triples and joined Oshita and Michinori Tsubouchi as the Best Nine picks in the outfield. In 1948, he fell to .280/.355/.371 with 20 steals. Kaneda rebounded to .302/.390/.464 with 108 runs, 35 doubles, 10 triples, 10 home runs, 72 walks and 21 stolen bases in 1949. He was one double behind leader Tetsuharu Kawakami and one triple behind Masaaki Hirai. On April 16, he hit for the cycle.

The Kyoto native hit .254/.360/.373 with 89 runs in 1950. In 1951, he put up a .322/.419/.511 line with 81 runs and a NPB-record 18 triples. He joined Noboru Aota and Yoshiyuki Iwamoto as the Best Nine outfield selections for the Central League. He finished third in the league in average behind Kawakami and Iwamoto.

In 1952, the veteran outfielder fell from 18 triples to 3. He scored 86 runs and stole 13 bases in 17 tries. He hit .274/.365/.360. He improved to .327/.433/.473 with 96 runs, 11 triples, 87 walks and 27 steals in 36 tries in 1953. He led the Central League in both triples and walks and joined Yuko Minamimura and Wally Yonamine on the Best Nine. He was second to Kawakami in average. That year, he was involved in a famous game on July 23 against the Yomiuri Giants. In the 5th, he was cited for interference by umpire Minoru Yamashita while coming into second base against Shigeru Chiba; bottles and seat cushions were thrown on the field as Chiba and Kaneda exchanged punches. In the 7th, Kaneda charged Chiba when Chiba was plunked by Takao Fujimura. Then, in the 9th, he stepped up with a 5-2 deficit, two on and two out. Kaneda hit a shot to right-center for a potential game-tying inside-the-park homer. Umpire Yamashita mistakenly thought Yonamine had caught the ball (lighting was poor). Hanshin fans attacked the Yomiuri team bus after the game; Yonamine later admitted to Kaneda that he had not caught the ball.

Kaneda had his last big year in 1954, hitting .309/.398/.436 with 81 runs, 10 triples and 28 stolen bases (being caught 10 times). He led the league in triples for the fourth time and placed 7th in average. He slumped to .254/.327/.316 with only 11 steals in 25 tries in 1955 and .173/.262/.212 in 1956. He ended up in 1957, going 5 for 20 with two walks and two doubles.

In 1,476 games in NPB, Kaneda hit .285/.378/.399 with 881 runs, 103 triples, 764 walks and 187 steals. He retired as the all-time triple leader. Through 2010, he ranked third in league history in three-baggers (behind Yutaka Fukumoto and Shoichi Busujima).

In 1960, Kaneda was hired as Hanshin's manager, replacing Yoshio Tanaka. He was 64-62-4 that year, third in the Central League, but began 1961 13-24-2 and was canned in favor of Sadayoshi Fujimoto. He was brought back in 1972, replacing Minoru Murayama early in the season and going 69-50-3 the rest of the way. He nearly led Hanshin to the pennant in 1973, which would have ended an eight-year title run by the Yomiuri Giants, going 64-59-7, only half a game back of Yomiuri. In 1974, Hanshin fell to 57-64-9 and 4th place and Kaneda was succeeded by Yoshio Yoshida at year's end. Overall, he was 267-259-25 as a skipper.

Sources: Japanbaseballdaily.com, Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball by Rob Fitts