Akimitsu Ito

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Akimitsu Ito (伊東 昭光)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 167 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Akimitsu Ito was an Olympic star who later led the league in wins in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Ito played for Honda Giken in the industrial league after high school. [1] He pitched for Japan when they won the 1984 Olympics; baseball was not a medal sport that year, though. He got the nod in the finale against Team USA and retired the first six batters before Shane Mack homered; he allowed one run in six and left with a 3-1 lead after walking Chris Gwynn in the 7th; lefty Kazutomo Miyamoto came on to face Will Clark. The team he shut down boasting Clark, Mark McGwire, Barry Larkin and B.J. Surhoff. Japan would hold on for the 3-1 victory, giving Ito the big decision. [2]

He pitched for the Japanese national team that won the 1985 Asian Championship. [3] He also helped Japan win Bronze at the 1985 Intercontinental Cup. [4] The Yakult Swallows took him in the first round of the 1985 NPB draft. [5] He struggled in his pro debut at 4-11, 4.10 for the 1986 Swallows. In 1987, he had a 14-11, 4.27 record. He made the Central League leaderboard in wins (tied for 3rd with Kazuhiko Endo), losses (tied for 7th), starts (31, 1st, two ahead of Manabu Kitabeppu and Takao Obana), complete games (6, tied for 9th with Kitabeppu and Matt Keough), IP (196 1/3, 4th, between Tatsuo Komatsu and Kazuhisa Kawaguchi), hits allowed (211, 2nd, 16 behind Obana), runs allowed (103, 2nd, 8 behind Obana), earned runs (93, 1st, two ahead of Obana), homers allowed (26, tied for 2nd with Suguru Egawa and Kitabeppu), walks (58, 4th) and hit batsmen (6, tied for 3rd).

Ito made his lone All-Star appearance in 1988 NPB All-Star Game 3, relieving Masumi Kuwata in the 9th with a 2-2 tie against the Pacific League. He tossed a shutout 9th and allowed a run in the 10th but the CL got it back in the bottom of the inning; Hiroaki Nakayama took over in the 11th and the CL would win in the 12th. [6] For the 1988 season, he was 18-9 with 17 saves and a 3.38 ERA in 55 games; he worked 122 2/3 IP in the kind of relief usage not seen in the US in that period. He tied Kazuyuki Ono for the CL lead in wins, tied Yoshitaka Katori for 4th in saves, was 3rd in games pitched (after Nakayama and [{Genji Kaku]]) and was second in save points (behind Kaku).

The Tokyo native fell to 4-11, 5.05 with a save in 1989. He tied Hiroki Nomura for 3rd in the CL in losses. He was 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in three games in 1990; he broke his leg while falling down stairs and missed most of the season then missed the next with a shoulder injury. [7] He returned to action in 1992 and rebounded to go 7-5 with a save and a 2.77 ERA. He finished 6th in ERA between Masaki Saito and Toshiro Yufune. His four appearances in the 1992 Japan Series tied Tsugio Kanazawa for the Yakult team lead; he was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA, beating the Seibu Lions in both Games 5 and 6 to stave off elimination, though Yakult fell in Game 7. Only Yoichi Okabayashi had a better ERA for the Swallows in the Series. [8]

In 1993, Ito was 13-4 with two saves and a 3.11 ERA. He placed 5th in ERA (between Nomura and Saito), tied Hiromi Makihara for 4th in wins and tied Kuwata for 4th with 8 complete games. In the 1993 Japan Series, he did not fare as well as a year prior, going 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA; only Tsutomu Yamada was higher for Yakult. He dropped game 3 to Hisanobu Watanabe but Yakult beat the Lions for their first Japan Series title. [9] He struggled in 1994 at 8-10, 4.86. He tied Kawaguchi for third in the league in losses, was 10th in IP (155 2/3), 4th in hits allowed (176), gave up the most runs (92, 6 more than Masahiro Yamamoto) and the most earned runs (84, one more than Yamamoto), was second with 20 homers allowed (8 behind Makao Kito), was 4th with 70 walks (between Hideki Sato and Takashi Saito) and nearly had more walks than Ks (73). One positive was hitting the lone homer of his career.

The right-hander cut his walks to 30 in 1995 and was 10-8 with a 4.38 ERA. He tied for 9th in the circuit in victories. In the 1995 Japan Series, his last Series appearance, he allowed only one hit in five innings over three games, but it was a game-losing homer in the 12th inning of Game 4 to the Orix BlueWave's Doug Jennings. It was Yakult's lone loss as his club took their second title. [10] He saw reduced time over his last few seasons while battling injury. In 1996, he was 3-2 with a 4.83 ERA in 22 games, followed by 3-1, 4.31 in 1997 and 3-2, 3.88 in 1998. He did not appear in the 1997 Japan Series. For his final three seasons, he was chairman of the board for the Japanese players' union, serving in between Hatsuhiko Tsuji and Masahiro Kawai. [11]

He ended his NPB career with a 87-76, 4.01 record and 21 saves in 325 games (160 starts). He threw five shutouts and had a 1.37 WHIP while striking out 632 in 1,289 1/3 IP. He hit .128/.167/.165.

He was pitching coach for Yakult's farm team in 1999-2000 then pitching coach for the big club from 2001-2005 and head coach from 2006-2007. He was minor league pitching coach for them again from 2011-2013 then became manager of the team in 2014. He scouted for Yakult starting in 2016. [12]

Sources[edit]

  1. Gary Garland's Japan Baseball Daily site (defunct)
  2. 1984 Washington Post article
  3. Taiwan Baseball Wiki
  4. Taiwan Baseball Wiki on the 1985 Intercontinental Cup
  5. Japan Baseball Daily
  6. Michael Eng's Japanese Baseball Database
  7. Japanese Wikipedia entry
  8. Japan Baseball Daily
  9. Japan Baseball Daily
  10. Japan Baseball Daily, Japanese Wikipedia 1995 Japan Series entry
  11. Pekitarin.com
  12. Japanese Wikipedia entry