Yasushi Tao (田尾 安志)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 8", Weight 171 lb.
- School Doshisha University
- High School Izuo High School
Yasushi Tao was a 7-time All-Star in Nippon Pro Baseball and nearly won a batting title once. He later was a manager.
Tao won two Kansai Big Six University League batting titles at Doshisha University. The Chunichi Dragons made him a first-round draft pick in the 1975 NPB draft. As a rookie in 1976, he hit .277/.344/.404 in a part-time role. He still won Central League Rookie of the Year honors. He batted .276/.315/.447 in another part-time role in 1977. Becoming a starter in 1978, Tao put up a .274/.327/.407 line with 11 home runs. He remained steady at .251/.308/.415 with 13 HR in 1979.
Tao stepped it up a notch at age 26 in 1980, hitting .299/.327/.417 with 29 doubles and 16 steals in 25 tries to make his first CL All-Star team; a free swinger, he drew only 20 walks in 498 plate appearances. He finished 9th in the CL in average, between Katsuo Osugi and Tatsuhiko Kimata. In 1981, Yasushi batted .303/.360/.463 with 15 homers. He was 10th in the league in average and led with 174 hits. He made his second All-Star team and was picked for his first Best Nine, joining Koji Yamamoto and Jim Lyttle in the outfield.
In 1982, the Kagawa native hit .350/.416/.497 for his career year. He had 25 doubles, 14 home runs and 92 runs. His walk rate was improving, from 20 in 1980 to 41 in 1981 to 58 this year. He led the CL in both runs and hits. He lost the batting title by .001 under controversial circumstances; he was walked five straight times by the Taiyo Whales so he could not catch the Whales' Keiji Nagasaki. He was .007 shy of OBP leader Masayuki Kakefu. He, Nagasaki and Yamamoto were the CL Best Nine outfielders and he again was an All-Star as well.
Tao's production fell off a bit in 1983 though he was still a good offensive threat - .318/.391/.458, 26 2B, 60 BB, 74 R. He finished third in average behind Akinobu Mayumi and Tsutomu Wakamatsu and led the league with 161 hits. He was picked for his 4th All-Star team and third and final Best Nine (Yamamoto and Tadashige Matsumoto were the other two outfielders this year).
1984 was Tao's last league-leading season. He hit .310/.371/.483 with a career-high 94 runs and 20 home runs. He tied Kenichi Yazawa for the CL lead in hits (166), was 3 runs shy of leader Yoshihiko Takahashi and he was 10th in average. He made the All-Star team. He also released an album called "Shujinko".
Chunichi dealt Tao to the Seibu Lions in the off-season, in exchange for Tadashi Sugimoto and Tomoyoshi Oishi. In 1985, Tao hit .268/.338/.415 with 13 home runs for the Lions. He made his first Pacific League All-Star team and sixth All-Star squad overall. On a team loaded with Japan Series veterans, Tao led their offense in his first Series appearance, batting .318/.400/.409 but Seibu fell to the Hanshin Tigers in the 1985 Japan Series. In 1986, Tao's batting line dropped to .265/.310/.393. He made his final All-Star team. He again picked it up for the Series, going 6 for 20 in the 1986 Japan Series. While Seibu's offense again struggled as a whole, Tao had some help as Kazuhiro Kiyohara and Hiromichi Ishige fared well and the pitchers posted a 1.97 ERA as the Lions topped the Hiroshima Carp.
Tao was traded again, this time to the Hanshin Tigers for Koji Maeda and Haruki Yoshitake. He struggled at .221/.240/.341 in 1987. In 1988, he batted .300/.373/.450 as a backup behind Hisashi Ono, Satoru Nakano and Mayumi. He hit only 4 home runs that, but three of them were sayonara blasts, which was a NPB record (since broken). He only had one other sayonara home run during his career. On August 27, he hit a sayonara grand slam against future Japanese Hall of Famer Tsunemi Tsuda.
In 1989, Tao batted .286/.312/.397. He was a starter in 1990 alongside Ono and Mayumi, batting .280/.347/.402 with 11 home runs. He slumped to .155/.237/.179 in 93 plate appearances in 1991 to end his playing career at age 37.
Tao hit .288/.344/.429 in 1,683 NPB games. He had 241 doubles, 149 home runs, 574 RBI and 738 runs. He only stole 58 bases in 120 tries. He finished with 467 walks and 644 strikeouts in 5,977 plate appearances.
Coaching, Managing, Broadcasting
Tao was a baseball commentator for Fuji-TV, Kansai-TV, NHK and Sun-TV. He coached for the Japanese national team that won Bronze in the 2002 Asian Games. In 2005, he was the manager of the expansion Rakuten Golden Eagles. As to be expected with an expansion team, things were rough as the club finished 38-97-1, not only 51 1/2 games behind the first-place SoftBank Hawks but 25 games behind fifth-place Nippon Ham. After the season, Tao was canned in favor of veteran manager Katsuya Nomura.
Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland