Yukinobu Kuroe

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Yukinobu Kuroe (黒江透修)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Yukinobu Kuroe was a six-time All-Star in Nippon Pro Baseball. He was the shortstop for most of the Yomiuri Giants' historic nine straight Japan Series titles, joining Sadaharu Oh, Shigeo Nagashima and Shozo Doi on the infield.

Kuroe debuted as a pro in 1964, going 7 for 43 with 3 walks for Yomiuri. He hit .172/.243/.203 in 70 plate appearances in 1965, backing up Tatsuro Hirooka at short. He pinch-ran once in the 1965 Japan Series, in which the Giants began their dynastic V-9 stretch. Becoming a regular in 1966, Kuroe hit .244/.309/.328 with 21 steals in 28 tries. On July 31, he broke up a 9th-inning no-hitter by Sohachi Aniya with two outs. He hit .211/.211/.474 in the 1966 Japan Series as Yomiuri beat the Nankai Hawks. He batted .278/.351/.410 in 1967, leading the Central League in times hit by pitch (8) and making his first All-Star team. He was 7 for 23 with a triple in the 1967 Japan Series as Yomiuri beat the Hankyu Braves.

In 1968, the little infielder put up a .284/.348/.392 line and went 16-for-24 in steal attempts. He made his second All-Star team and his only Best Nine as the top shortstop in the CL. He was just 2 for 20 with two walks and a steal in the 1968 Japan Series but Yomiuri still beat Hankyu. He batted .293/.340/.378 in 1969 and made his third straight All-Star selection. He was 6th in the league in average, between Kazuyoshi Yamamoto and Taira Fujita. During the 1969 Japan Series, he batted .250/.280/.583 as Yomiuri again topped the Braves.

The Kagoshima native fell to .254/.290/.395 in 1970. He excelled in the 1970 Japan Series, hitting .286/.286/.619 with two homers, four runs and four RBI as Yomiuri beat the Lotte Orions in five games. His 11th-inning homer off Masaaki Kitaru in the opener ended a shutout duel between Kitaru and Tsuneo Horiuchi in dramatic fashion; he added his other dinger in the Series finale. Shigeo Nagashima beat him out as Series MVP.

Kuroe hit .278/.336/.386 with 22 steals in 25 tries in 1971 and returned to the All-Star team after a year off. He was 7th in the CL in average, between Tatsuhiko Kimata and Sadaharu Oh. In the 1971 Japan Series, he batted .316/.350/.579 with five runs and four RBI in five games; Yomiuri beat Hankyu. The veteran produced at a .275/.319/.353 rate in 1972, was again an All-Star and was again very efficient at base-stealing (16 SB, 2 CS). In the 1972 Japan Series, he was 6 for 18 with a walk, two doubles, a homer and 5 RBI in five games against Hankyu. In the last game, he hit one of four Yomiuri homers to lock up the title.

In 1973, Yomiuri's last year of their title run, Kuroe batted .246/.298/.368 and made his last All-Star team. He was 2 for 7 in the 1973 Japan Series, splitting time at short with Takeshi Ueda as Yomiuri beat Nankai. Kuroe ended his career with a .212/.290/.279 batting line as a backup in 1974. Overall, he had batted .265/.322/.368 in 1,135 career NPB games with 127 steals in 176 tries. While he only homered about once every 20 games in the regular season, he had averaged about every six games in the Japan Series.

After his playing career ended, Kuroe worked as a coach (for the Seibu Lions, Yomiuri, Chunichi Dragons and Yokohama BayStars), minor league manager (for Lotte) and baseball commentator (TV Tokyo).

Source: Japanbaseballdaily by Gary Garland