Noboru Akiyama (秋山 登)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 160 lbs.
Ironman submarine pitcher Noboru Akiyama played his entire career with the Taiyo Whales. He retired with a record of 193-171 with 1897 strikeouts and a 2.60 ERA.
Noboru started out in high school as an outfielder but was converted to pitching in college. He holds the Big6 record of 22 strikeouts in a game against Tokyo University in 1954. He helped the Japanese national team win Gold at the 1955 Asian Championship, their first Asian Championship title.
Akiyama's manager in college put him through thousand pitch sessions each day in order to develop a rubber arm. After debuting in 1956, Akiyama had four straight 300 innings pitched seasons followed by five straight 200 innings pitched seasons. He compiled an incredible 785 and two-thirds innings in his first two seasons. During his career, he would win both halves of doubleheaders five different times and once threw back-to-back shutouts on consecutive days. Akiyama was very rarely ever bothered by injury. In 1963, he felt sharp elbow pains in the first inning of a game and had to come out. The Whales' trainer treated him with acupuncture, and the next day, Akiyama tossed a complete game victory.
Akiyama secured Central League Rookie of the Year honors by earning 25 of his team's 43 wins in 1956. In 1960, he was awarded the MVP Award for leading his team to a championship with a 21-10 record and a 1.75 ERA. Akiyama started all four games in the 1960 Nippon Series as his Whales swept the heavily favored Daimai Orions.
Akiyama managed the Whales for two seasons after retiring and then became a commentator for Kanagawa TV. He died of respiratory arrest at his home on August 12, 2000. Akiyama was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004.