Kazuyoshi Yamamoto (山本 一義)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 165 lb.
- Born July 22, 1938 in Hiroshima, Hiroshima Japan
- Died September 17, 2016 in Hiroshima, Hiroshima Japan
Yamamoto once drew 10 intentional walks in 13 plate appearances in high school. He debuted with the Carp in 1961, hitting only .206/.305/.289 as a part-timer, followed by .194/.270/.289 in 1962. He became a starter in 1963, putting up a .253/.323/.404 line. #7 continued to progress in 1964, batting .290/.386/.444. He was 9th in the CL in average, between Shozo Shigematsu and Jim Marshall.
In 1965, Yamamoto hit .256/.348/.416 with 63 walks and 15 home runs. He made his first All-Star team and led the league with 25 doubles. He improved to .300/.394/.474 with 70 RBI and another25 doubles and 15 homers in 1966; showing a good batting eye, he had 61 walks to 23 whiffs. He led the CL with 8 times hit by pitch, made his second All-Star team and finished 8th in average, between Kazuhiko Kondo and Makoto Matsubara. He also made his first Best Nine, joining Shinichi Eto and Toshio Naka in being picked as the top three outfielders in the Central League.
The Hiroshima native had his best batting average (.311/.387/.477) in 1967, socking 16 homers. He was 4th in the circuit in average, trailing only Naka, Kondo and Sadaharu Oh. He did not make the Best Nine as Naka, Kondo and Isao Shibata were selected, but he did make his third consecutive All-Star team. He hit 17 home runs for his hometown team in 1968 but his batting line fell to .256/.355/.439. He still was an All-Star pick.
In 1969, Yamamoto produced at a .294/.379/.488 rate with a career-high 21 home runs. He finished 5th in average, between Shigeru Takada and Yukinobu Kuroe. He made his last All-Star team and also was picked for the Best Nine; the other outfielders chosen were Takada and Dave Roberts. He hit .272/.359/.428 in 1970 and .250/.354/.441 in 1971.
1972 marked the last double-digit home run campaign (17) by the veteran; he hit .272/.367/.482 for the year, nearly matching his best slugging percentage. Dropping to a part-time role, he batted .275/.346/.428 in 1973 and .287/.362/.430 in 1974. He was a backup in his last season, 1975, behind similarly-named Koji Yamamoto (who would surpass him as the best outfielder named K. Yamamoto in Hiroshima annals), Richie Scheinblum and Jitsuo Mizutani. He eked out a .209/.278/.318 line in 144 plate appearances, but Hiroshima won their first CL pennant ever. In the 1975 Japan Series, he went 1 for 9; the hit was a homer in the 13-inning game four tie. Hiroshima dropped the Series, 4-1-1, to the Hankyu Braves.
Overall, Yamamoto hit .270/.357/.432 with 629 walks and 171 home runs in 1,594 games in Nippon Pro Baseball.
Yamamoto later was a coach for the Kintetsu Buffaloes. In 1982, he became manager of the Lotte Orions, succeeding Kazuhiro Yamauchi. He was 54-69-7 to finish 5th in the Pacific League that year, then was 43-76-11 for a dead-last season in 1983. He was replaced by Kazuhisa Inao following the season. Kazuyoshi got a job coaching for his old Hiroshima club, then was a baseball commentator.
Source: Japan Baseball Daily