Hideki Kuriyama, 62, who led Japan’s national baseball team to the World Baseball Classic (WBC) title, is returning to his hometown team, the Nippon Ham Fighters. He is expected to take on a more general managerial role rather than an on-field leadership role. It’s been two years since he stepped down as head coach of Nippon Ham in October 2021.토토사이트
Kuriyama’s title is undecided, but he will serve as the de facto president of the organization, overseeing club operations and team roster construction, Japanese sports publication Sports Nippon reported on Sunday. He will begin his term on Jan. 1 of next year, which is unusual for a baseball player who has served as a manager to take on such a role, the publication said.
Kuriyama’s appointment is not the first of its kind. Osamu Mihara, who managed Yomiuri, Nishitetsu (Seibu), Taiyo (Yokohama), Kintetsu and Yakult, was president of Nippon Ham in the mid-1970s.
Kuriyama joined Yakult as an infielder and played outfield before retiring. He worked as a university professor and broadcast commentator before taking the helm of Nippon Ham in 2012. With no coaching experience, he led the team to the Pacific League title in his first year. They lost to Yomiuri in the Japan Series 2 games to 4.
Kuriyama’s Nippon Ham has been a steady builder of power. They finished fourth, third, and second from 2013 to 2015 before finally breaking through in 2016. They won the Pacific League and swept Hiroshima 4 games to 2 in the Japan Series, their first Japan Series title in 10 years.
It’s been downhill for Nippon Ham since then. Starting in 2019, they finished fifth for three consecutive years. At the end of 2021, Kuriyama led Team
Kuriyama led Japan to its first WBC title in 14 years. Photo credit: Japan National Baseball Team website
Team Japan pitchers in training at the WBC, with Sasaki preparing next to Darvish (far right). Photo credit: Japan National Baseball Team website
Sasaki left Nippon Baseball Japan Inc. to take charge of the national team. Shinzo Soyoshi, 51, took over as head coach, while former Japan national team coach Atsunori Inaba took over as general manager.
As a player, Kuriyama batted .279 with seven home runs and 67 RBIs in 494 games. As a manager, he won 684 games, drew 54 and lost 672, and had a winning percentage of 5.4% in 1410 games.
Shinjo, who is known for his off-the-wall behavior, played for Hanshin and retired from the major leagues to Nippon Ham. He was a member of Nippon Ham’s 2006 Japan Series championship team.
This year, Nippon Ham moved to Escon Field, a new domed ballpark in Kitahiroshima, near Sapporo, Hokkaido. The team tried to rebound in the new stadium, but finished last for the second year in a row. Shinjo was given a one-year extension. Kuriyama was given the responsibility of rebuilding the team.
Kuriyama convinced Shohei Ohtani, 29, a former Nippon Ham player, to join the team. He actively supported “idoryu,” a pitcher-batter combination. This relationship led to the inclusion of “superstar” Ohtani and fellow Nihon Hammer alumnus Darvish Yu (37, San Diego) on the WBC team, as well as Japanese-American outfielder Rasu Nutba (26, St. Louis), the first foreigner ever to play for Japan.
Nihon Ham players in a final workout at Escon Field.
was selected to the team. The Japanese team, which has undergone a generational change with players in their early to mid-20s, beat the U.S. to win its first title in 14 years.
Kuriyama passed the baton to Hirokazu Ibata, who was not reappointed.