Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Former Nippon Professional Baseball player and manager Senichi Hoshino died on Thursday. He was 70.
After playing as an ace pitcher in the professional baseball team Chunichi Dragons, Hoshino served as manager of the team, the Hanshin Tigers and the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles. He also led the Japanese national team.
According to Rakuten Baseball Inc., which operates the Eagles, Hoshino had been suffering from pancreatic cancer and his condition became serious in late December.
Born in Okayama Prefecture, Hoshino joined the Dragons as the first-round draft pick in 1969.
Hoshino was nicknamed “hot-blooded man” due to his aggressive pitching and also known as a “Giants killer” for notching 35 wins against the Yomiuri Giants by blowing away such superstar sluggers as Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh many times.
Never moving to another team, Hoshino finished his 14-year career as a pro baseball player in 1982 with 146 wins, 121 losses and 34 saves. His earned run average stood at 3.60.
He served as Dragons manager in 1987-1991 and 1996-2001, helping the team win the league title in 1988 and 1999.
In 2002, Hoshino became manager of the Tigers, which won its first Central League pennant in 18 years the following year.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Japanese national team led by Hoshino ended up in fourth place.
In his first year of as manager of the Eagles, the northeastern prefecture of Miyagi, home to the Pacific League team, was severely damaged by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Encouraging players including ace Masahiro Tanaka, now a U.S. major leaguer, to show their strength to disaster-hit people, Hoshino led the team to win its first league pennant in 2013. The same year, the Eagles beat the Giants in the Japan Series to win the national title for the first time ever.
During his 17-year team management career, Hoshino won 1,181 games, lost 1,043 and tied 53. He was the first postwar pro team head born after the end of World War II who achieved 1,000 carrier wins.
Hoshino became vice chairman of the Eagles in 2015. He was inducted in Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame last year.
In the wake of Hoshino’s death, Nagashima issued a statement saying it was “too sudden and really regrettable.”