Election to the Hall of Fame for both Hiromitsu Ochiai and Mutsuo Minagawa is long overdue. The reasons behind Ochiai's slow journey to the Hall are more obvious- he was a rebel and free thinker in a game that did not respect either trait. For Minagawa, the reasons are less clear- possibly because he never won a Sawamura award. Either way, they both more than deserve the honor.
Hiromitsu Ochiai (left) is the only player to win the triple crown three times (yes, three times), and his 510 career dingers rates among the top 6 all time. Add to that a .311 average and 1564 RBI, and you have one of the best of all time. His resistance to tradition, including a view of training that differed greatly from that of most in Japanese baseball at the time, did not make him many friends. But his stubbornness, and his success despite it, helped to usher in a new age in Pro Yakyu that saw many changes to the game. Won two MVP's, but never hit a Japan Series HR in a handful at bats, though he did hit over .300 and scored a handful of runs.
Mutsuo Minagawa (below, with Futoshi Nakanishi, who, according to Japan Baseball Daily, Minagawa 'owned') was the last man to win 30 games, going 31-10 in 1968, helping his Hawks get within one game of the pennant winning Braves. That season he pitched 27 complete games and still finished out the season with a 1.61 ERA! His 221 wins puts him at #15 on the all time list, and his 2.42 lifetime ERA puts him at #12. However, despite making it into a half dozen Japan Series games, he pitched poorly and never picked up a win. Nonetheless, though he doesn't have the awards to show for it, he was a dominant pitcher for a long period of time, and definitely deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Just as the election of these two greats to the Hall is overdue, so is the concluding part on the 1958 tour of Japan by the St. Louis Cardinals. Fear not, it is on the way, so stay tuned...