Suguru Egawa

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Suguru Egawa (江川 卓) (Monster)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Suguru Egawa pitched 9 years in the Nippon Pro Baseball.

Amateur Career[edit]

Egawa dominated in high school baseball. In 1972, he pitched 36 consecutive innings without allowing a hit in the Tochigi prefectural qualification tournaments, but still lost in the final since his team's batting was very weak. In the Spring Koshien of the next year, Egawa and the Sakushin Gakuin encountered the Hokuyo High School, who were also a championship candidate. The Monster Egawa ruled them again, and the batters of the Hokuyo did not even touch his ball until the 23th pitch after he struck out the first four batters. When Fumio Arita finally hit a foul, the whole Koshien stadium was full of applause. Egawa then struck 20 in the quarterfinals, but lost to the Hiroshima Commercial High School due to catcher Yoshitami Kameoka's error. His 60 strikeouts in a tournment is still the all-time Koshien record.

He completed 5 games, allowed 2 hits and struck out 70 to advance to the Summer Koshien in 1973. He held the record for fewest hits allowed in a prefectural qualification tournaments until 2023. Unfortunately, he encountered bad weather in the second round of this year's tournament, and the Choshi Shogyo High School beat him because he lost his control. After graduating from school, although he insisted that he will go to university, the Hankyu Braves still picked him in the first round of the 1973 NPB draft. He refused to sign, of course.

The Iwaki native planned to go to Keio University, but he didn't pass the test and turned to Hosei University. He won six best nine awards in his 8 seasons in the Tokyo Big6 Baseball League, and also broke the league record with 443 career strikeouts (broken by Tsuyoshi Wada in 2008). The Taiheiyo Club Lions selected him with the first overall pick of the 1977 NPB draft, but he refused to sign, because "Fukuoka is too far".

The Blank Day Scandal[edit]

Egawa went to University of Southern California to prepare for the draft the next season. He was expected to attended the 1978 NPB draft, but the Yomiuri Giants unexpectedly announced that they signed "free agent" Egawa on the day before the draft. They indicated that the Lions should sign a contract before November 20, but the draft was held on November 22, so Egawa was a free agent on November 21 - the "Blank Day". Of course, the other 11 teams didn't admit the contract, and the league declared that his contract was invalid, too. Four teams still drafted Egawa in the draft, and the Hanshin Tigers won the lottery. However, Egawa refused to sign again because he wanted to join the Giants, and the Giants even threatened that they would found a new league. Finally, after negotiation, the Giants traded their ace Shigeru Kobayashi (who won the Sawamura Award the next year) to the Tigers for the right to Egawa to end the incident.

Professional Career[edit]

Egawa was just 9-10 with a 2.80 ERA in his rookie year. The talented pitcher soon adapted to pro baseball, and collected 16 wins with a 2.48 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 1980. He led the league in strikeouts and wins, ranked 2nd in ERA (.13 behind Hiromu Matsuoka) and won his first Best Nine award as a pro. He also attended the 1980 NPB All-Star Game, started in Game 3 and struck out 7 in 3 innings.

The 1981 season was Egawa's career year. He was selected for the 1981 NPB All-Star Games, started in Game 3 and pitched 3 shutout innings with 4 Ks. He ended up 20-6 with a 2.29 ERA and 221 strikeouts, and led the league in wins, strikeouts, ERA, complete games, shutouts, winning percentage and WHIP. He also won the Central League MVP and his second Best Nine Award. However, he lost the Sawamura Award to his teammate Takashi Nishimoto because of the scandal. In the 1981 Nippon Series, he started in Game 1 and Game 4, then completed the Game 6 with 3 runs allowed to help the Giants beat the Nippon-Ham Fighters. He led the Series with 24 IP (six ahead of Nishimoto, the MVP), tied Nishimoto and Mikio Kudo for the most wins and was one K behind leader Nishimoto.

Egawa was still productive in 1982 and attended the All-Star Game again; he allowed 3 runs in a inning and got the loss. He had a 19-12 with a 2.36 ERA this year. Egawa led the league in WHIP, shutouts, complete games and strikeouts (196, 12 ahead Manabu Kitabeppu), ranked 2nd in ERA (.29 behind Akio Saito) and 2nd in wins (1 behind Kitabeppu). Kittabeppu won the Sawamura award, so Egawa missed this award for his entire career.

The Fukushima native injured his right shoulder in 1983, so he was only 16-9 with a 3.27 ERA in this year. He attended the All-Star Game for the 5th consecutive year, allowed one run in 3 innings in Game 3 and got the loss. He struggled in the 1983 Nippon Series, when he allowed 10 runs in 8 2/3 innings and collected 2 losses. The Seibu Lions beat the Giants in 7 games. In 1984 NPB All-Star Game 3, Egawa pitched 3 shutout innings, struck out eight consecutive batter and won the MVP. He ended up 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA, and led the league in winning percentage and shutouts. He suffered a right shoulder injury again, and his ERA rose to 5.28 in 26 starts, and collected his 100th career win on June 4.

After recovering from the injury, Egawa was selected into the 1986 NPB All-Star Game. He pitched 2 shutout innings with 2 strikeouts and ended up with a no-decision. He had a 16-6 record with a 2.69 ERA in this season. He was still productive in 1987, as he collected 13 wins with a 3.51 ERA in 25 starts. However, when Takehiko Kobayakawa blasted 2 homers in consecutive at-bats off him on September 20, Egawa decided to retire after this season. His last game was Game 3 of the 1987 Nippon Series, when he pitched 8 innings, allowed 2 runs and got the loss to Katsuhito Mizuno. The Giants were beaten by the Seibu Lions in 6 games, and Egawa's professional career ended.

Egawa's repertoire included a fastball (peak 95 mph) and a curveball.

Overall, Egawa was 135-72 with a 3.02 ERA, struck out 1,366 and pitched 1,857 1/3 innings in 9 seasons in NPB.