Tomoo Wako (若生 智男)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 180 lb.
- High School Tohoku High School
Tomoo Wako pitched for 21 seasons in Nippon Pro Baseball and made one All-Star team. His brother was a prominent high school coach.
Wako began his career with the Mainichi Orions in 1956, going 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA in 5 games. He did not see much action in 1957 (3-1, 2.68 in 19 G) or 1958 (0-1, 2.38 in 23 G). He was 3-2 with a 2.20 ERA in 27 games (14 starts) in 1959.
By 1960, he was seeing regular action for the club (now the Daimai Orions), going 13-8 with a 2.15 ERA in 44 games (28 starts). He was 4th in the Pacific League in ERA (between Katsumi Nakanishi and Glenn Mickens), tied Mickens and Tadao Wako (no relation) for 8th in wins, tied Nakanishi and Kazuhisa Inao for 7th in shutouts (3) and hit the most batters (9). He started game 2 of the 1960 Japan Series but only pitched 1 1/3 IP (1 H, 1 HB, 0 R) against the Taiyo Whales before Shoichi Ono relieved. In game 3, he relieved Haruki Mihira in the second and allowed two runs (one earned) in 3 1/3 IP; Atsushi Aramaki relieved him in turn. Taiyo swept Daimai in the Series.
The Sendai native was 9-9 with a 3.19 ERA in 50 outings (16 starts) in 1961; he tied Tetsuya Yoneda for third in hit batsmen (8). In 1962, he had his busiest year: 15-13, 2.73 in 55 G (30 starts, 14 complete games) with 237 IP. He was on the PL leaderboard in lots of departments: wins (9th), losses (10th), ERA (9th, between Kiyohiro Miura and Mickens), games pitched (9th), complete games (tied for 8th with Mutsuo Minagawa), innings (6th, between Yoneda and Takao Kajimoto), hits allowed (199, 9th, between Minagawa and Miura), homers allowed (20, 3rd after Inao and Katsuji Sakai), strikeouts (174, 5th, between Yukio Ozaki and Yukihiro Kubo), runs allowed (91, 8th) and earned runs (72, tied for 9th with Sakai and Masayuki Dobashi). He fell to 3-7, 4.61 in 1963.
Moving to the Hanshin Tigers in 1964, he had a 5-6, 3.16 record. Hanshin won their second Central League pennant. He relieved twice in the 1964 Japan Series and tossed three shutout innings while Hanshin lost to the Nankai Hawks. In 1965, he was 3-5 with a 3.66 ERA for the Tigers. He had a 10-4, 1.96 campaign in 1966. He finished third in the CL in ERA (behind Tsuneo Horiuchi and Minoru Murayama), was 7th with 44 games pitched (between Kentaro Ogawa and Makoto Inagawa) and tied Yoshiro Sasaki for 8th with 3 shutouts.
The right-hander remained effective in 1967 (8-7, 2.15). He was second in ERA (a distant .74 behind Masatoshi Gondo) and tied Masaichi Kaneda for 5th with 132 strikeouts. He held opponents to a .205 average for the second straight year. He faded to 3-7, 3.34 in 1968. He became the 33rd NPB pitcher to 1,000 strikeouts. In 1969, the 32-year-old was 12-12 with a 2.74 ERA. He tied Murayama for 9th in wins, tied for 7th in losses, tied for 7th in complete games (8) and tied Horiuchi for third with 4 shutouts. He made his only All-Star team. In 1969 NPB All-Star Game 2, he relieved Ono in the 4th with a 1-0 lead and tossed 3 shutout innings (4 H, 1 K) before Makoto Matsubara pinch-hit for him. He left with a 3-0 lead but Yutaka Enatsu blew it and the PL rallied to win.
Wako was sharp in 1970 (13-10, 2.17, 1.09 WHIP). He was 6th in ERA (between Enatsu and Yataro Oishi), tied Osamu Tanabe for 8th with 9 complete games and tied 6 others for sixth in wins. He became the 50th NPB player to 100 wins. He also started a three-year stint as a player-coach. His last season on the leaderboards was 1971; the veteran was 10-12 with a 2.17 ERA and ranked 6th in ERA (between Shitoshi Sekimoto and Masaji Hiramatsu), tied for 10th in wins, tied for 6th in losses, 10th in IP (174 1/3, between Yukiharu Shibuya and Kenji Furusawa) and 10th in hits (150, between Shibuya and Furusawa).
Tomoo pitched only five games in 1972 (1-2, 3.71) and was 0-5 with a 2.65 ERA in 1973. In 1974, he had a 7-4, 3.33 campaign, with only 15 walks in 97 1/3 IP. He joined the Hiroshima Carp for 1975; at age 38, he was 3-3 with a save and a 3.08 ERA in 20 games in his 20th season. He became the first player to represent three different clubs in the Japan Series - and again was on the losing side as Hiroshima lost to the Hankyu Braves. Wako allowed one run in two innings in two relief appearances. He wrapped up his playing career with the Carp in 1976 (0-1, Sv, 4.66 in 19 G).
Overall, Wako had gone 121-120 with a 2.71 ERA in 628 NPB games. He completed 58 of 267 starts, 17 of them shutouts. In 2,260 1/3 IP, he allowed 1,901 hits (a .229 average allowed), 174 of them home runs and 632 walks. He struck out 1,396. He hit .116/.141/.138. Through 2011, he is among the NPB career leaders in numerous pitching categories: appearances (26th), shutouts (tied for 94th), wins (tied for 79th with Osamu Nomura and Shigeyuki Takahashi), losses (70th), innings (60th, between Yasuo Yonekawa and Hajime Kato), hits allowed (79th, between Yutaka Ono and Hisanobu Watanabe), hit batsmen (68, tied for 58th with Ryohei Hasegawa), strikeouts (58th, between Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi and Jiro Noguchi), runs allowed (814, 96th, between Tatsuo Komatsu and Satomi Bando), WHIP (77th, between Shigeru Sugishita and Tadashi Wakabayashi), ERA (73rd, between Ozaki and Tatsuyoshi Yasuhara) and RA (66th, between Tsutomu Tanaka and Koji Uehara).
After his playing career ended, Wako coached for Hiroshima (1977-1978), the Lotte Orions (1979-1983), Hanshin (1984-1985), Lotte (1987), Hanshin (1988-1989), the Daiei Hawks (1991-1992) and the Yokohama BayStars (1993-1996). He also scouted for Daiei.