Nagashima Shigeo

Nagashima Shigeo

Product Description

Nagashima Shigeo (1936 in Sakura, Chiba, Japan) is a Japanese former professional baseball player and manager.

Nagashima was by far the most popular figure in Japanese baseball during his career. His contributions to the development of the sport in Japan are immeasurable.

Nagashima made his professional debut in April 1958, and struck out in all four of his at-bats against Kaneda Masaichi (coincidentally, Oh Sadaharu also struck out in all of his at-bats in his debut game against Kaneda). Regardless, Nagashima became the team's clean-up hitter by mid-season, and the Giants won the league championship. Nagashima led the league in HRs (29) and RBIs (92), and was awarded the rookie of the year award. He would have hit .300 with over 30 home runs and 30 steals in his rookie year, but he had one home run scratched off his record because he forgot to step on first base while rounding the bases after hitting a home run.

Nagashima played his most popularized game on June 25, 1959, when the Japanese emperor attended a baseball game for the first time. Nagashima hit the game-winning home run off Murayama Minoru, and rookie Oh Sadaharu also had a home run in the game.

The Yomiuri Giants cleanup consisting of Oh batting third, and Nagashima batting fourth, were nicknamed the ON Hou, (translated to: Oh-Nagashima Cannon) as Nagashima continued his hitting prowess, and Oh emerged as the best hitter in the league. The Giants won the league championship nine years in a row from 1965 to 1973, and Oh and Nagashima dominated the batting titles during this period. Nagashima won the season MVP award five times, and the Best Nine Award every single year of his career (a total 17 times).

Nagashima won only two Golden Glove awards, because the title was established in Japan late during his career, in 1972. Nagashima was a flashy fielder, making extravagant (and rather unnecessary) leaps and dashes to field even the most routine ground ball. Giants fans were delighted by Nagashima's fielding, even when he made careless errors.

After winning his sixth batting title in 1971, Nagashima suddenly fell into a hitting slump. The team attempted to revive him by giving him more at-bats, but it was obvious Nagashima was no longer capable of the success he had shown during his younger years. The team wanted Nagashima to take over as manager after Kawakami Tetsuharu, who had led the team for 14 years, and Nagashima doubled as a player and a coach in his final seasons. In 1974, the Chunichi Dragons won the league championship, breaking the nine-year streak held by the Giants, and Nagashima played his final game on October 14 against the Dragons, grounding out to short for a double-play in his final at-bat. The game was followed by an elaborate retirement ceremony. By 1970, almost every single baseball manual featured Nagashima on the cover, even when the actual book was written by someone else.