Katsuya Nomura, 84, Enduring Star of Japanese Baseball, Dies

TOKYO — Katsuya Nomura, a mainstay of the baseball earth in postwar Japan who was just one of the country’s best catchers prior to heading on to a extensive next profession as a supervisor, died on Tuesday in Tokyo. He was 84.

The cause was a heart attack, his son Don Nomura mentioned.

In his 26 many years as a participant and a player-manager, Nomura hit 657 residence operates and had 1,988 runs batted in, both equally second on the all-time record behind the good slugger Sadaharu Oh. He also gathered 2,901 hits in 3,017 game titles, also the 2nd-greatest totals in Japan.

Nomura’s greatest season was 1965, when he turned the to start with Japanese participant in the postwar period to gain the triple crown, hitting 42 dwelling runs, driving in 110 operates and batting .320. He led the Pacific League in property runs 9 periods and was the league’s Most Valuable Player 5 times.

He was voted the best catcher in Japanese baseball 19 times and elected to Japan’s Baseball Corridor of Fame in 1989.

For all his accomplishment on the discipline, although, Nomura by no means attained the movie star position of stars like Oh and Shigeo Nagashima, who performed for the extra glamorous and profitable Tokyo Yomiuri Giants of the Central League.

Nomura invested the bulk of his taking part in days with the Osaka-based mostly Nankai Hawks. (The staff later moved to Fukuoka and is now owned by the technologies large SoftBank.) The Hawks dominated the considerably less well-known Pacific League through most of Nomura’s tenure with the club, winning two championships but also shedding four moments to the Giants.

“When I very first satisfied him, he was the all-time top dwelling operate hitter, but I experienced never listened to of him,” Don Nomura reported of his foreseeable future stepfather. (Katsuya Nomura afterwards adopted Don and his brother Kenneth, the sons of his next spouse.) “All I realized was Oh and Nagashima, simply because they were normally on Tv set. I had to go to the bookstore and glimpse him up.”

Nomura’s stature grew right after he retired as a player at 45 in 1980. He grew to become a entire-time supervisor soon after a ten years as a baseball analyst, starting up with the Yakult Swallows, perennial cellar-dwellers who also played in the shadow of the Giants, their crosstown rivals in Tokyo.

In accordance to Robert Whiting, who has composed about baseball in Japan for 5 decades, Nomura uncovered about the use of studies from his Hawks teammate Don Blasingame, a previous infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants, who had also served as a head mentor for the duration of Nomura’s tenure as player-supervisor, from 1970 to 1977. Nomura made use of that awareness to direct the Swallows to championships in 1993, 1995 and 1997. (He had also received a Pacific League crown with the Hawks in 1973.)

Nomura spent a few several years with the Hanshin Tigers, from 1999 to 2001, but resigned after his second wife, Sachiyo, a television commentator, was convicted of tax evasion. (He stepped down as manager of the Hawks in 1977 simply because of studies that his spouse had meddled in club affairs.)

Immediately after managing in Japan’s industrial league from 2003 to 2005, Nomura returned to the pro ranks in 2006 to take care of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, who had entered the Pacific League a year previously. Right after a few shedding seasons, the Eagles manufactured the postseason in Nomura’s fourth and remaining 12 months with the workforce.

As a supervisor, he gained 1,565 games, lost 1,563 and tied 76 periods.

Nomura was normally referred to as “Grumpy Grandpa” for his gruff and unsparing fashion. Some players felt the rough appreciate served them.

“Nomura taught me what pitching is and what baseball is from scratch,” claimed the Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who commenced his profession with Rakuten. “That I satisfied Nomura from my to start with yr as a pro when he instructed me was the luckiest detail in my baseball lifestyle.”

Other gamers observed Nomura’s design and style differently, notably people he berated in man or woman and in the news media. He was also cold to some foreign gamers, according to Robert Whiting. Soon after using more than the Swallows, Nomura produced Larry Parrish, another former Big League Baseball infielder, who experienced led the league in home operates the yr just before. He also launched Tom O’Malley, who strike above .300 in his two seasons with Yakult. When the Hanshin Tigers refused to launch the pitcher Darrell Might in 1999, he issued a assertion that accused Nomura of currently being xenophobic.

Katsuya Nomura was born on June 29, 1935, in Amino, a city in Kyoto Prefecture near the Sea of Japan. Nomura’s father, who was stationed in China, died when his son was a boy.

Right after graduating from Mineyama Superior Faculty, Nomura joined the Nankai Hawks. He went hitless in nine game titles in 1954 and was demoted for a period, then returned to the top club for great in 1956.

Nomura experienced just one son, Yoichi, with his initial spouse. He and his second spouse, Sachiyo, had a son, Katsunori Nomura, a backup catcher who is now a mentor with Rakuten. Nomura adopted Sachiyo’s sons after he married her. She died in 2017. In addition to his sons, Nomura is survived by seven grandchildren.

Following he retired from baseball, he grew to become a television analyst and at periods was overshadowed by his spouse, who had turn into a superstar for her caustic commentary.

Baseball remained in his blood until finally the finish.

“Nomura minus baseball equals zero,” he the moment said. “There would be practically nothing left if you choose baseball away from me.”

James Wagner contributed reporting.

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