Nobushige Morishita

From BR Bullpen

Nobushige Morishita

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 170 lb.

Nobushige Morishita played 15 seasons for the Nankai Hawks

After high school, Morishita played briefly for Nankai Doken in the industrial leagues. He debuted with Nankai in 1952, hitting .258/.310/.303 in a backup role behind Chusuke Kizuka at short. He was 3 for 7 in the 1952 Japan Series and hit a game six homer but the Hawks fell in six to the Yomiuri Giants. He got 215 plate appearances in 86 games in 1953 and hit .280/.374/.403 while swiping 20 bases in 23 tries. He led the Pacific League with six times hit by pitch. He was 0 for 5 with a walk in the 1953 Japan Series, again backing up Kizuka at short in a loss to Yomiuri.

In 1954, Morishita became an everyday player at second base and put on a speed show, with 51 steals while only being thrown out 11 tries. He hit .285/.321/.388. He made the Best Nine as the PL's top second sacker. He was 20 steals behind league leader Takeshi Suzuki. He also made his first All-Star team.

Morishita fell to .239/.320/.346 in 1955 but was 59-for-75 in steal attempts. He paced the PL in steals for the only time. He hit .180/.250/.227 and stole two bases in the 1955 Japan Series, but scored just one run as Nankai fell to the Giants.

The Fukuoka native rebounded to .284/.329/.572 in 1956 with 77 runs and 56 steals in 78 tries. He was hit by 13 pitches, most in the league. He finished 8th in the league in average, just ahead of Kihachi Enomoto and made his second All-Star team. He was 19 swipes behind leader Akiteru Kono. It was his last season with 50+ steals or even 40.

Morishita hit .264/.316/.382 with 7 triples in 1957 and stole 34 bases while being gunned down 16 times. He led the league in times plunked (9) and made his third All-Star team. In 1958, he was limited to 38 games and hit .244/.326/.358.

The veteran infielder produced at a .227/.283/.372 rate with only five steals in 1959. He went 4 for 15 with two doubles in the 1959 Japan Series, finally playing on the winning side. He batted .275/.326/.360 with 24 steals in 36 tries in 1960. He made his 4th and final All-Star team that year.

Morishita hit .281/.330/.351 in 1961 with his next-to-last 20-steal season (20 SB, 11 CS). For the last time, he led in times hit by pitch (10). He won his second and final Best Nine honor as the league's best second baseman. He batted .368/.500/.521 in the 1961 Japan Series.

The man from Yawata was just 4 for 23 with a double and walk in 1962 then hit .216/.259/.284 in 1963 with just five steals in eleven attempts. In 1964, the 30-year-old batted .240/.291/.297 and stole 24 bases while being thrown out 7 times. In the 1964 Japan Series, he backed up Yasuhiro Kunisada at second and Johnny Logan at third and went 4 for 10 with a homer off Pete Burnside to help the Hawks take the title.

In 1965, the fading former speedster hit .201/.259/.268 with only one steal in five attempts. At third base for Nankai in the 1965 Japan Series, he was 6 for 20 with a double and 3 runs as they fell in five games to Yomiuri; he won the Fighting Spirit Award as MVP of the losing team.

The old-timer wound down in 1966 with a batting line of .200/.268/.256 in 140 plate appearances spread over 92 games. In the 1966 Japan Series, he was 1 for 9 while backing up Kunisada at third base.

He retired with a career .256/.311/.341 line and 315 steals in 430 tries over 1,573 games. Through 2009, he is 23rd in Nippon Pro Baseball history in swipes (between Isao Harimoto and Roberto Barbon) and 25th in times caught stealing.

Morishita was coach for the Chunichi Dragons, Taiyo Whales and Nankai after his playing days ended, then was baseball commentator. He came to Taiwan in 1991 as bench coach for the Brother Elephants. He was promoted to manager in 1992 and went 51-35-4 to take the pennant in his only year as a skipper.