Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 Hall of Fame Election

The Hall of Fame in Tokyo today announced that Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, Hiroshi Gondo and Haruo Wakimura were elected as the HOF class of 2019.

Just barely clearing the 75% threshold with 287 votes, Tatsunami made it into the Hall on his fifth try. He collected 2480 hits in his career, good enough to put him at 8th on the all-time list, just above Mr. Baseball himself, Shigeo Nagashima.   487 of those hits were doubles, making him the all time leader in that category.

After winning two Koshien tournaments, Tatsunami was selected by the Chunichi Dragons in the first round of the 1987 draft and went on to win Rookie of the Year honors.  He would appear in five Japan Series with the Dragons, winning it all in 2007. Later in his career he set a record for most pinch hit appearances in a season, and finished his career with a .285/.366/408 slash, five gold gloves and 11 All Star selections.  A member of the Meikyukai, he was also reputedly a notorious womanizer during his career.

Hiroshi Gondo garnered 102 votes to give him 76.7 percent of the 'Expert Division' vote after spending several years slowly gaining more and more votes on the ballot.  Gondo was also a Rookie of the Year with Chunichi, when, as a phenom out of Tosu High School and the industrial leagues, he won 30 games in each of his first two seasons. During his Sawamura Award winning season of 1961, he posted a 0.91 WHIP and 1.70 ERA in 429 innings pitched.

Dragons manager Wataru Nonin, an old school former player who had worn a professional uniform in Japan since the formation of the first tournament in 1936, put Gondo out on the mound another 362 innings in '62, and by 1963 his arm was shot.  After extending his career another five years as a utility infielder, Gondo became a coach, first with the Dragons, Buffalos and Hawks before landing a job with the Yokohama Bay Stars.  After becoming the teams manager in 1998 he led them to a Japan Series title.

Haruo Wakimura was a star high school pitcher who won a Koshien, and went on to lead the Japan High School Baseball Federation for nearly a decade.

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