[JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] Hiromitsu Kadota Carved Out a Hall of Fame Career with Talent and Grit
Hiromitsu Kadota slugged 567 home runs in his 23-year career before retiring in 1992 as one of NPB's greatest power hitters. He passed away on January 24.
Read the full article on SportsLook - Hiromitsu Kadota Carved Out a Hall of Fame Career with Grit and Talent
Only two men ever hit more home runs than Hiromitsu Kadota in NPB history. That alone tells you plenty about the prolific left-handed hitter’s illustrious career.
And more than 30 years after he played his final game, Kadota remained one of the more colorful players in Japanese baseball history.
Kadota passed away on Tuesday, January 24, at his home in Aioi, Hyogo Prefecture. He was 74.
Tributes to Kadota poured in on social media and in traditional media in the days that followed his death.
Sadaharu Oh smacked 868 round-trippers for the Yomiuri Giants, while Katsuya Nomura bashed 657 for the Nankai Hawks, Lotte Orions and Seibu Lions. Both sluggers retired in 1980.
Greg "Boomer" Wells, a former Braves and Hawks teammate, mourned Kadota's death in a post on his Facebook page.
"It's a very sad day for me," Wells wrote. "I was informed that my best friend and former teammate Kadota-san passed away. He was a great player and an even better friend. Rest in peace my friend. I will miss you."
From left, Sadaharu Oh, Katsuya Nomura and Hiromitsu Kadota in August 2013 in Fukuoka. (ⒸSANKEI)
Kadota Remembered for His Big Swing
Oh praised the 170-cm Kadota for his determination as a hitter throughout his career.
"He wasn't very big, but he had a full swing," the Hawks chairman was quoted as saying in numerous Japanese news reports on Wednesday, January 25. "He was a person with a strong desire to improve."
Kadota retired in 1992 after 23 NPB seasons, all but two with the Nakai/Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, the Pacific League franchise now known as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. He also played for the Orix Braves from 1989-90.
In 1971, Kadota, then 23 years old, had a breakthrough season, batting .300 with 31 home runs and 120 RBIs in 129 games.
Kadota recovered from a right Achilles tendon tear in 1979, when he was limited to 19 games and earned the NPB Comeback Player of the Year Award the next year. He crushed 41 homers, drove in 84 runs and hit at a .292 clip in 111 games.
Kadota's Singular Approach
Stories about Kadota circulated quickly in Japan in the aftermath of his death, and one of the most poignant observations about his approach to batting appeared in Nikkan Sports.
In former NPB pitcher Hisashi Yamada's remembrance piece on Kadota, which was posted online on January 24, the sports newspaper noted that Kadota had one goal in mind whenever he stepped into the batter's box.
"I only aim for home runs," Kadota had said, according to Nikkan Sports.
Not surprisingly, this mindset clashed with Nomura's philosophy when he served as Hawks manager (1970-77), Yamada observed.
Nevertheless, the longtime pro pitcher admired Kadota's sustained success as a power hitter.
"He was a professional among professionals who hit home runs with that small body," Yamada opined.
Read the full story, which also includes more information on Kadota's career and news items on the 2023 World Baseball Classic, the ongoing Japan Rugby League One season, freestyle skiing and more, on SportsLook.
Author: Ed Odeven
Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and Twitter ＠ed_odeven.
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