Monday, January 16, 2017

Hall of Fame Class of 2017

Today the Hall of Fame in Tokyo announced that Senichi Hoshino (right), Masaji Hiromatsu, Tsutomu Itoh, Hiroshi Goshi and Merie Suzuki were elected as the 2017 Hall of Fame Class.  Itoh had received the most votes last year of all candidates not elected in the Players Division.  Similarly, Hoshino and Hiromatsu were the leading vote getters among the Expert Division class not elected last year.

Senichi Hoshino (left) played shortstop for Korashiki High School before taking the mound at Meiji University, where he pitched a no-hitter against rival Rikkio University.  Drafted by Chuinichi in 1968, he was a six time all star, who led the league in saves while also posting a 15-9 record in 1974 to win the Sawamura Award.  After retiring he was a commentator for NHK before going on to manage the Dragons, Tigers and Golden Eagles, accumulating 4 pennants and one Japan Series title.

Masaji Hiramatsu (right, and at bottom) won a Koshien Tournement before going on to win a Sawamura award for the Whales.  An eight time all star, he would go on to win just over 200 games, while also setting a Central League record for hit batsmen.  Hiramatsu was also solid at the plate, hitting 25 career home runs. He became a television analyst after retiring in 1984.

Drafted out of High School, Tsutomu Itoh (left) would go on to lead the great Lions teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s as a superb handlers of pitchers.  In addition to his pitch handling, Itoh was the best fielding catcher of his day, setting multiple records for errorless chances and fielding percentage.  He was also good with a bat, hitting 156 lifetime home runs while setting a record for sacrifice bunts.  He acknowledged Wally Yonamine, as well as Tetsuharu Kawakami and Tatsro Hirooka, in his remarks after learning of his election.

Hiroshi Goshi was a longtime Koshien Tournament umpire, and Mirei Suzuki contributed to the improvement and understanding of baseball rules.  For more see the Japan Hall of Fame website.

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