Michinori Tsubouchi

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Michinori Tsubouchi (坪内 道典)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Michinori Tsubouchi is a member of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

Tsubouchi's pro career began in the fall of 1936 when he hit .262/.339/.272 for Dai Tokyo. He batted .241/.290/.310 in the spring of 1937 and .241/.290/.310 in the fall, in which he moved to the Lion club. In spring 1938, he put up a .255/.366/.314 line, followed by .213/.283/.282 in the fall. Michinori batted .225/.290/.268 in 1939 and .193/.294/.241 in 1940.

Tsubouchi batted .237/.342/.294 in 1941 and stole 26 bases, most in the Japanese Professional Baseball League that season. The speedy center fielder hit .241/.327/.390 with 44 steals in 104 games in 1942, leading in steals and times hit by pitch (5). He batted .234/.329/.306 with 36 steals in 1943. As player-manager of Asahi in 1944, he went 12-22-1 before the season ended due to World War II. He was third in the league in average (.338/.404/.449) at the time, leading with 11 doubles and had 16 steals, 3 shy of the lead. His 61 total bases also led the league.

After the war, Tsubouchi joined Goldstar in 1946 and hit .316/.382/.433 with 11 triples and 26 steals. He was 43-60-2 as their manager. He only struck out in 6 of 393 AB, a Nippon Pro Baseball record for fewest whiffs by a player with over 300 at-bats. He was 5th in the JPBL in average. In 1947, the veteran outfielder put up a .271/.346/.344 line and stole 21 bags. He was hit by 10 pitches, leading the league. He made the Best Nine, which became an annual award that year, joining Masayasu Kaneda and Hiroshi Oshita as being considered the top outfielders in the JPBL. He managed the club, now the Kinsei Stars, to a 41-74-4 record.

Tsubouchi batted .283/.347/.374 with 20 steals in 1948 and had a 25-game hitting streak. He joined Kaoru Betto and Noboru Aota in winning Best Nine honors in the outfield and placed 10th in the league in average. He became the first player in NPB history to 1,000 games played and 1,000 hits.

Moving on to the Chunichi Dragons in 1949, the 35-year-old hit .296/.343/.412 with 83 runs and 31 doubles. He was plunked by 12 pitches, most in the JPBL. He finished 5 doubles behind leader Tetsuharu Kawakami. In 1950, he hit .288/.351/.412 with 73 runs and 28 steals in 36 tries. In the Central League's first season, he led the league with 12 times plunked. He wrapped up his playing career in 1951, still productive at .278/.356/.374 with 83 runs and 37 steals in 45 tries. He made the CL All-Star team (for the first NPB All-Star Game ever) and led the league with 28 doubles.

Overall, Tsubouchi had batted .262/.336/.343 in 1,417 career games in NPB, with 344 steals. Through 2009, he was still tied for 21st in NPB history in triples (58) and 18th in steals.

Tsubouchi was the manager of the Nagoya Dragons in 1952 and 1953. His clubs were 75-43-2 in '52 and 70-57-3 in '53 but finished third each year behind the powerful Yomiuri Giants and Osaka Tigers. He later coached for Chunichi and the Nishitetsu Lions and managed in the minors for the Lotte Orions. In 1992, he was voted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.