Sadao Kondo

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Sadao Kondo (近藤 貞雄)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Sadao Kondo pitched 11 years and managed 8 years in the Nippon Pro Baseball.

Kondo was signed by the Nishitetsu club in 1943, but they expelled him after this season. He was used as a two-way player, went 5-5 with a 1.96 ERA on the mound, and hit .244/.277/.289 at the plate. The Tokyo Giants signed him in 1944, but he struggled again on both sides of the ball. He was 3-4 with a 2.87 ERA as a pitcher, and hit .176/.223/.221 with a homer as a batter. Therefore, the Giants decided to turned him into a full-time pitcher after the 1944 season.

The Aichi native broke out in 1946 after World War II. He was 23-14 with a 2.18 ERA, ranked 4th) in the Japanese Professional Baseball League in wins (7 behind Giichiro Shiraki), 9th in Ks (124 behind Juzo Sanada) and 2nd in ERA (.08 behind Hideo Fujimoto). However, he had a car accident and his finger was stabbed by a piece of glasses after this season. This injury severely influenced his control, and he only pitched 10 games with a 4.17 ERA in 1947, and the Giants released him.

Because Kondo's finger couldn't bend due to the injury, he developed a unique style to hold the ball. That style can help him pitched a ball like a palmball, and saved his career. The Chunichi Dragons signed him in 1948, and he went 7-23 with a 2.60 ERA. He led the league in losses because the lineup of the Dragons was very weak in that era. He was 7-12 with a 3.61 ERA in 1949, and went 10-4 with a 3.60 ERA in 1950. He was 0-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 1951, and only had 2 appearances in 1952 due to injury. Kondo only pitched 17 more games in the next two seasons, then announced his retirement after the 1954 season.

He was the pitching coach for Chunichi from 1955 to 1962 and from 1964 to 1968 after retiring as a player. Because the overuse of Hiroshi Gondo and his shortened career, Kondo developed the theory of pitcher division. This helped him protect Eiji Bando and Bando became their best reliever in the 1960s. After leaving Chunichi, Kondo became the pitching coach for the Lotte Orions from 1969 to 1971, and helped Choji Murata create his unusual windup and high kick. He was also the pitching coach for Chunichi again from 1972 to 1976.

Chunichi hired Kondo in 1981 as their manager to replace Toshio Naka because they had the worst record in the Central League. Kondo led the Dragons to the pennant in 1982, but they lost to the Taiyo Whales in the 1982 Nippon Series. The Dragons were 1/2 win away from ranking last in the CL in 1983, and Kondo was fired. He then managed the Taiyo Whales from 1985 to 1986 and the Nippon Ham Fighters from 1989 to 1991, but he couldn't get better than 4th place in the standings. Kondo was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Overall, Kondo was 55-71 with a 2.91 ERA and 274 strikeouts, pitched 1.239 innings in 11 years in NPB. He was 470-521-59 with a pennant as a manager.

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