Yasunori Oshima

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Yasunori Oshima

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Biographical Information[edit]

Yasunori Oshima played for 24 years in Nippon Pro Baseball and also managed.

Oshima was a third-round pick in 1968 as a pitcher, but the Chunichi Dragons converted him to the field while in the minors. Oshima made it to the big time in 1971 and hit a meek .203/.270/.315 in 74 games, but stole 11 bases in 14 tries and hit 7 homers in 241 AB. In 1972, Yasunori batted .230/.306/.385 with 14 home runs. He homered twice and drove in five runs during one inning on August 2.

In 1973, the youngster produced at a .241/.332/.399 rate with 13 homers in 316 AB. He hit .258/.339/.461 in 1974. He was 3 for 16 in the 1974 Japan Series with 7 strikeouts, but his hits were a double and a home run. In 1975, the Chunichi batsman's line read .278/.343/.414 as a part-timer.

Oshima had 280 plate appearances in 123 games in 1976, hitting .251/.321/.438. He set a NPB record with 7 pinch-hit homers, four in June; Yasuhiro Takai had held the old record. He became a regular in 1977 and went deep 27 times, driving in 71. His batting line was a very strong .333/.407/.559, finishing 4th in average. He made his first Central League All-Star team. On August 9, he homered twice in one inning - this made him the first player in NPB history to have two two-homer innings. He drove in five runs that inning, becoming the first player in CL annals to have two five-RBI innings.

Oshima produced at a .281/.371/.440 rate with 15 home runs in 1978. In 1979, he hit .317/.376/.603 with 33 doubles, 36 homers, 95 runs and 103 RBI. From October 8 through August 17, Oshima homered in five straight contests. He made his second All-Star team. He was third in the circuit in average behind Felix Millan and Masayuki Kakefu. Yasunori led the league in doubles, hits (159) and sacrifice flies (7). He was 10 RBI behind leader Koji Yamamoto.

Oshima slumped to .251/.317/.425 with 18 homers and only six doubles in 1980. During the 1981 season, he hit .301/.396/.504 with 23 home runs and 81 RBI.

Oshima batted .269/.341/.433 with 18 homers for the Dragons in 1982. He was 3 for 17 with a home run in the 1982 Japan Series. In 1983, he hit .290/.373/.550 and smashed 36 homers, driving home 94. He made his third All-Star team. He tied Yamamoto for the CL lead in home runs.

In his 14th season with Chunichi, 1984, Oshima produced at a .280/.376/.507 rate with 30 home runs, 73 walks and 87 RBI. He made the All-Star squad for the fourth time, going 4 for 13 in his All-Star career overall. In 1985, the veteran hit .265/.357/.513 and socked 23 long balls.

Oshima kept it up in 1986 with a .260/.334/.469 batting line and 20 home runs at age 35. It was his last 20-homer season, but he would still reach double digits five more times. On August 15, he hit his 300th career home run. Oshima's 17th and final season with Chunichi was 1987; he hit .269/.328/.477 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI in 283 AB.

Oshima moved to the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1988 and batted .276/.329/.425 with 26 doubles and 15 home runs. In 1989, Oshima hit .265/.358/.438 with 26 doubles and 18 home runs.

Yasunori's batting line in 1990 was .267/.356/.411. On August 21, he got his 2,000th hit to join the meikyukai. He became the 25th NPB player to get 2,000 hits, the oldest to reach the number; Hiromitsu Ochiai would later surpass him.

Oshima hit .251/.330/.375 in 1991 and hit 10 home runs, his last season with double digits. In 1992, he hit .258/.340/.352. It was his last campaign over 100 AB. In 47 games and 47 plate appearances in 1993, the Fukuoka native batted .262/.340/.357. He played 64 games in 1994 and hit .323/.397/.431. He became the oldest player in league history to hit a grand slam that season.

At the end of his career, Oshima had spent 26 seasons in pro ball (including his minor league time), second all-time in NPB at that point - Katsuya Nomura spent 27 years. Kimiyasu Kudoh would also later pass Oshima.

Oshima was a baseball commentator from 1995-1999. From 2000 through 2002, he managed Nippon Ham to a 183-225-7. The club finished third the first year, but fell to last in 2001 and then fifth.

Overall, Oshima played 2,683 games in NPB, scored 1,042 runs, had 2,204 hits, homered 382 times, cranked out 330 doubles, drove in 1,234 runs, drew 964 walks and batted .272/.350/.458. His 16 pinch-hit home runs in the Central League tied a record and his 20 pinch-hit career home runs were second all-time.

Through 2008, Oshima was tied for 16th in NPB history in homers (even with Tatsunori Hara), 18th in hits, 16th in RBI, 28th in runs, 16th in total bases (3,716), 15th in walks, 12th in sacrifice flies (74), tied for 8th with Motonobu Tanishige in strikeouts (1,462), tied for 7th in double plays ground into (229), 5th in games and 13th in plate appearances (9,227). Despite his success and his home run, hit and double titles, he never made the Best Nine.

Source: Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland

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