Akihiko Oya

From BR Bullpen

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Akihiko Oya

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 8", Weight 170 lb.

Biographical Information[edit]

Akihiko Oya, a 7-time All-Star catcher and later a manager, was picked by the Yakult Swallows in the 7th round of the 1969 NPB draft. He became Yakult's regular catcher a year later and hit .204/.254/.322. In 1971, the 23-year-old improved to a .231/.287/.369 batting line and made his first All-Star team. In '72, he won the Diamond Glove Award as the top defensive backstop in the Central League, was again an All-Star and hit .269/.332/.388.

In 1973, Oya batted only .189/.240/.282 in his worst year as a regular. In '74, he rebounded to .239/.286/.376 with a career-high 13 homers. He made the All-Star team. The next year, he won his second Diamond Glove, batted .243/.284/.344 and was an All-Star for a fourth time. The 1976 season produced a line of .228/.290/.326 and a third Diamond Glove. He continued his run of fielding awards in '77 and hit .252/.293/.394.

In 1978, at age 30, he produced at a .268/.316/.362 rate, won his fifth Diamond Glove, made his fifth All-Star team and for the first time was picked as a Best Nine representative. He hit .250/.308/.375 in the 1978 Japan Series and hit a homer in game one as Yakult fell in seven games to the Hankyu Braves. He followed with a .271/.305/.358 year and his sixth All-Star selection. His final All-Star pick, second (and last) Best Nine and sixth and final Diamond Glove, all came in '80, when he hit .283/.330/.405, for the best OPS he produced as a starter.

The 1981 season marked a drop-off to .221/.279/.315 and he was becoming a part-timer; he followed with a .271/.320/.320 year. In '83, the veteran catcher hit .260/.347/.347 in 56 games, then .299/.365/.416 in 50 games in 1984. He finished as a player by going 3 for 19 at age 35.

Overall, Oya batted .245/.295/.353 in 1,552 games.

After retiring, Oya became a commentator for Fuji TV. He was hired to coach the Yokohama BayStars from 1993-1995 and then became the manager in 1996, replacing Akihito Kondo. After a 55-75 year in '96, he guided them to second place at 72-63 in 1997. He stepped down as manager and was replaced by Hiroshi Gondo, who led the team to the 1998 Japan Series; Oya was given credit for having built the club. Akihiko became a baseball analyst again and was rehired as Yokohama's manager for the 2007 season after the firing of Kazuhiko Ushijima. Oya led Yokohama to 4th at 71-72-1 his first year but fell to 48-92-2 and last place in 2008. He began 2009 13-24 and was replaced by Tomio Tashiro.

Main source: Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland