Masaichi Kaneda, NPB’s Only 400-Win Pitcher, Dies

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Masaichi Kaneda, the winningest pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball history with 400 victories, died in Tokyo on Sunday. He was 86.

He had been hospitalized since Aug. 8 with cholangitis and the cause of death was septicemia.

A left-hander, Kaneda was enshrined in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988 after pitching for 20 seasons from 1950 to 1969, first for the Kokutetsu (now Tokyo Yakult) Swallows, then the Yomiuri Giants. He compiled a 400-298 record with a 2.34 ERA.

Among his other all-time records are 14 consecutive seasons winning at least 20 games and career strikeouts at 4,490.

Kaneda also threw two no-hitters, including a perfect game.
Born in Aichi Prefecture in 1933, Kaneda played for Kyoei Commercial High School (now Kyoei High School) and joined the Swallows in 1950. The southpaw’s arsenal included a blistering fastball and a big, dipping curve.

On Opening Day in 1958, Kaneda faced the Giants and struck out vaunted rookie Shigeo Nagashima four consecutive times.

Kaneda moved to the Giants in 1965, when the team including Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh won the first of nine straight Japan Series titles. He recorded his 400th career win against the Chunichi Dragons on Oct. 10, 1969, and retired after that season. The Giants retired his number, 34.

In his first stint as a manager from 1973 to 1978, Kaneda led the Lotte Orions, the predecessor of the Chiba Lotte Marines, to the Pacific League title and a Japan Series victory over the Dragons in 1974.

Kaneda’s funeral is private for only close relatives. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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