Saburo Hirai

From BR Bullpen

Saburo Hirai (平井 三郎)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 6", Weight 132 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Saburo Hirai played in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Hirai was signed by the Hankyu Braves in 1948, and soon became their starting shortstop. [1] He hit .279/.320/.384 with 26 steals. Hirai improved to .277/.345/.399 with 6 homers and a Japanese Professional Baseball League-leading 11 triples in 1949. When the two leagues separated, Hirai joined the Nishi Nippon Pirates. He hit .309/.363/.446 with 13 homers, and became the first player to have two 20-game hitting streaks in a season. [2]

When the Pirates was merged by the Nishitetsu Lions of the Pacific League, the Central League claimed they still had the right to the old Pirates player. The Yomiuri Giants then robbed Hirai and Yuko Minamimura from the Lions. Hirai shined in the first year with the Giants, batting .280/.326/.397 with 7 homers, and won the first CL Best Nine award as a shortstop. In the 1951 NPB All-Star Games (the first NPB All-Star Games), Hirai collected a single from Yoshimasa Takesue in Game 1, went 0-for-3 in Game 2, then hit a double off Tokuji Kawasaki in Game 3.[3] Hirai was selected into the 1952 NPB All-Star Game, but went 0-for-10 in two games. He broke the NPB record for most at-bats without a hit in an All-Star Game with 8 in Game 1.[4] The Tokushima native ended up batting .276/.348/.377 with 21 steals in1952, and won the Best Nine again.

Hirai attended the All-Star Game again, and went 1-for-7 in that event; the only hit was a 2-RBI single off Kawasaki in Game 2.[5] He recorded a .291/.367/.427 batting line with 21 steals, and won the Best Nine for the third consecutive year. He led the league in runs with 97, ranked 7th in hits (25 behind Tetsuharu Kawakami), 8th in RBI (33 behind Fumio Fujimura), 9th in swipes and 10th in batting average. When talented shortstop prospect Tatsuro Hirooka debuted in 1954, Hirai was moved to second base, and he only hit .252/.306/.335. He recorded a .280/.335/.371 batting line in 1955, then slumped to .220/.301/.310 in 1956. Hirai then announced his retirement after the 1957 season due to a heart issue. He was the defense coach for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1961, then transferred to the Hanshin Tigers and worked as the same position from 1963 to 1964.

Overall, Hirai had hit .277/.337/.389 in 10 seasons in NPB.