Tadashi Sugiura

From BR Bullpen


Tadashi Sugiura (杉浦 忠)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 156 lbs.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Tadashi Sugiura pitched 13 years and won a MVP in the Nippon Pro Baseball.

Sugiura represented Japan in the 1955 Asian Championship when they won their first Gold Medal. The Nankai Hawks signed him in 1958, and soon became their ace as a rookie. He went 27-12 with a 2.05 ERA, ranked 2nd in the Pacific League in wins (6 behind Kazuhisa Inao), 5th in ERA (.63 behind Inao) and 4th in Ks (119 behind Inao). Sugiura started 1958 NPB All-Star Game 1, but allowed 3 runs in 1 2/3 innings and got the loss against Masaaki Koyama and the Central League. He also won the PL Rookie of the Year, of course.

Sugiura's 1959 season was one of the most incredible and historic seasons in NPB history. He was selected for the 1959 NPB All-Star Games, pitched 2 shutout innings in Game 1 and got the win over Yoshio Kitagawa. The ace of Nankai also set the Pacific League record for 54 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing any runs. Sugiura ended up 38-4 with a 1.40 ERA and 336 strikeouts, and led the league in wins, strikeouts, winning percentage, starts, shutouts, ERA and WHIP; he became the first PL pitcher to led the league in wins, Ks, ERA, shutouts and winning percentage in the same season.

In the 1959 Nippon Series, he was expected to start versus the ace of the Yomiuri Giants, Motoshi Fujita in Game 1, but Fujita was hit by a comebacker before the game, so the Giants replaced him with Taketoshi Yoshihara. The Hawks collected 10 runs in the first 8 innings, and Sugiura only allowed 3 runs. Unexpectedly, when Masatoshi Haraikawa - who won 18 games this season - got on the mound to close the door, he allowed 3 runs without retiring anyone. The manager of the Hawks, Kazuto Tsuruoka, sent future Meikyukai member Mutsuo Minagawa to relieve him, but he still allowed a run to secure the Hawks' win. Thus, Tsuruoka concluded that Sugiura was the only pitcher who can deal with the string lineup of the Giants.

The Hawks started their main long-reliever Yoshio Tazawa to started in Game 2 against Fujita. Since Fujita was nearly unbeaten in the regular season, Tsuruoka wanted to give up this game to give his ace a rest. Tazawa indeed just pitched one inning with 2 runs, but Fujita surprisingly allowed 4 runs in the 4th inning to give the Hawks the lead. Tsuruoka had no chance but to send Sugiura to the mound, and he ate the lastfive innings to notch his second win. The Giants started Fujita again in the Game 3, so the Hawks also started Sugiura again. The Aichi native was still productive, and only allowed a run in 8 innings. However, Kazuhiko Sakazaki blasted a game-tying solo shot in 9th inning, and Sugiura requested a pitcher change. Tsuruoka rejected his wish because he didn't trust his other pitchers, and Masaaki Mori hit a single to the center field. It could have been a walk-off hit, but their 4th outfielder, Keiji Osawa, had a nice play and threw to catcher Katsuya Nomura to retire runner Tatsuro Hirooka. Yousuke Terada's clutch RBI double gave the Hawks a lead in the 10th inning, and Sugiura completed the game to notch his third win in three games over four days.

There was a rain delay before Game 3, so Fujita started again in Game 4 in order to try to keep the Giants in the series. The Hawks once again answered them with their ace. Sugiura perfectly met their need, ending the series with a shutout and won the first Nippon Series title for the Hawks. He is the only player to won 4 straight games in a Nippon Series without a loss, and took the Nippon Series MVP. He had thrown 32 of their 37 innings! In the PL MVP voting, he got all the votes and won his only MVP. In addition, the overuse shortened both starters' careers (common in Japan at that time). Fujita only pitched 5 more years, and Sugiura also only had 5 more season as a starter.

Sugiura was still reliable after his legendary season. In 1960 NPB All-Star Game 1, he relieved Tetsuya Yoneda and threw 3 shutout innings (fanning four), and closed Game 3 with 2 2/3 innings without any runs. He was 31-11 with a 2.05 ERA, leading the league in complete games, strikeouts and WHIP in 1960. He was 2nd in wins (2 behind Shoichi Ono), 2nd in ERA (.08 behind Ono) and 2nd in shutouts (1 behind Ono]]). Sugiura was the 7th pitcher to collect 30+ wins more than once.

The Aichi native extended his solid performance in 1961. He was 20-9 with a 2.79 ERA, and struck out 190. However, he suffered a blood circulation injury due to long-time overload, and underwent a surgery in September. After recovering, Sugiura was not the same ace as in his early career. He was only 14-15 with a 3.07 ERA in 1962, and had a 14-16 record with a 2.63 ERA in 1963. He was selected for the 1964 NPB All-Star Game 1, starting with a shutout inning. Sugiura reached the 20-win mark again this season, but his ERA rose to 3.02, and he led the league in home run allowed.

After the 1964 season, the doctor announced that Sugiura's injury worsened and he couldn't pitch more than 3 innings in a a game. Thus, he was turned into a reliever and had a 8-1 record with a 2.19 ERA in 36 appearances in 1965. He was believed to become the first player in NPB history to play a closer's role. Sugiura also attended All-Star Game 1 this summer, and started 3 innings with a run allowed. He started in Game 1 of the 1965 Nippon Series, but allowed 3 runs in 5 innings and got the loss against the legendary Masaichi Kaneda. His next appearance was in Game 5, when he he relieved Joe Stanka in the 7th inning, but Shozo Doi hit a walk-off single and the Giants beat the Hawks to win the title.

Sugiura only pitched 51 innings with a 2.47 ERA in 27 appearances in 1966. In the 1966 Nippon Series, he had a shutout inning in Game 4 but allowed 2 runs in 2 1/3 innings in Game 5. The Hawks were beaten by the Giants again in 6 games; the Giants were early in their historic run of nine straight titles. He had a 2.39 ERA in 45 appearances in 1967, and pitched 111 innings with a 2.68 ERA in 1968. His ERA rose to 4.15 in 1969, and the 35-year-old Sugiura announced his retirement after the 1970 season. He was the pitching coach for the Kintetsu Buffaloes from 1974 to 1977, and managed the Hawks from 1986 to 1989. Sugiura was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Overall, Sugiura was 187-106 with a 2.39 ERA and 1,756 strikeouts, pitching 2,413 1/3 innings in 13 seasons in NPB. Through 2023, he was 6th in NPB annals in winning percentage, between Tsuyoshi Wada and Shigeru Sugishita.

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