Chusuke Kizuka

From BR Bullpen

Chusuke Kizuka (Idaten) also known as Tadasuke Kizuka

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 7", Weight 132 lb.

Infielder Chusuke Kizuka was a six-time All-Star in Nippon Pro Baseball, even though he began his career three years before the first All-Star game.

Kizuka played for Moji Tetsudo Kanrikyoku in the Japanese industrial leagues after high school. He signed on with the Nankai Hawks in 1948 and hit .236/.272/.315 with 34 steals and 64 errors (most in the Japanese Professional Baseball League). He was named to the Best Nine as the league's top shortstop.

Chusuke made a league-high 69 errors in 1949 and batted .303/.335/.412. The speedster legged out nine triples and pilfered 59 bases. He led the JPBL in swipes and joined Fumio Fujimura, Shigeru Chiba and Tetsuharu Kawakami as the Best Nine picks on the infield.

In 1950, Kizuka put up a .301/.341/.414 line, had 8 triples, scored 94 runs, struck out only 19 times in 481 AB and stole 78 bases while being caught only eight times. His 115 singles led the new Pacific League, which he also paced steals. He was 8th in the PL in average. He again made the Best Nine. He hit .309/.336/.380 in 1951 with 55 steals in 62 tries. He led the league with 47 errors, his fourth straight time leading. Part of this was due to his significant range at short. He tied Kaoru Betto for 4th in the PL in average and led in steals and hits (130). With teammates Tokuji Iida, Kazuto Tsuruoka and Kazuo Kageyama, he formed the Best Nine infield - the quartet was named the "Million Dollar Infield" (just like the Negro League quartet of Willie Wells, Ray Dandridge, Dick Seay and Mule Suttles. He made the first PL All-Star team as well, a feat he would replicate the next five years. He was 4 for 19 with a steal in the 1951 Japan Series, which Nankai lost to the Yomiuri Giants.

In 1952, the fleet-footed infielder hit .280/.309/.390 and stole 55 bases in 66 attempts. He led the PL in steals for the third straight season and again was named to the Best Nine at short; all four members of the Million Dollar Infield were again picked. He also led in sacrifice hits (23) and times hit by pitch (6). It was his last season leading in any department. He was just 1 for 17 in the 1952 Japan Series, which Nankai lost to the Giants. The next year, he faded to .239/.283/.303 with only 55 runs and 23 RBI. He stole 44 bases in 50 tries, as Larry Raines stole 17 more to become the first player other than Kizuka to lead the PL in that category. Kizuka was named to the Best Nine for the final time. He was just 3 for 18 with a double, homer and steal in the 1953 Japan Series; the homer came in game 7 but the Hawks still fell 4-2, as the Giants again topped them.

Kizuka hit .253/.287/.357 with 37 steals in 53 attempts in 1954 as Raines became the first PL Best Nine shortstop other than Kizuka. Chusuke reclaimed that honor in 1955, when the far-ranging fielder hit .249/.292/.301 with 38 steals in 45 tries. He made his last Best Nine selection at short. His postseason woes continued as he went 2 for 27 and Yomiuri again beat Nankai in seven games in the 1955 Japan Series.

In his final season for Nankai, 1956, Kizuka put up a .253/.290/.297 line and stole 34 bases in 42 attempts. He moved to the Kintetsu Buffalo in 1957 but batted only .207/.255/.263 and was thrown 17 times running in 47 total attempts. He hit .207/.240/.251 with 14 steals in 23 tries while falling under 100 games played in 1958, then was 5 for 21 with a double, walk and a steal in 1959.

Kizuka later coached for Kintetsu and the Tokyo Orions.

In 1,288 games in NPB, Kizuka's batting line read .262/.298/.342. He had stolen 479 bases in 593 tries.

Through 2009, he ranked 4th in NPB history in steals (behind only Yutaka Fukumoto), Yoshinori Hirose and Isao Shibata) while being 26th in times caught stealing (for comparison's sake, Fukumoto was first in that category, Shibata third and Hirose 18th).

Source: Japanbaseballdaily.com