Tuesday, August 01, 2006

August 1st, 1968

Shigetoshi Hasegawa Born

Remembered of course, as the best ever Japanese born converted starter who became a closer late in his career while posting an astounding 300 ERA+. Actually, he's probably more remembered for being what must one of only a handful (only one?) of Major Leaguers with an eight syllable (Shig-a-toe-c Has-e-ga-wa) name. Yankee Stadium's legendary public address announcer Bob Sheppard has said that Hasegawa was one of his personal favorite names to annouce and one could hear the relish with which Sheppard would announce the pitcher.

That 300 ERA+ came in 2003, when Hasegawa was thirty-six and his countryman Kaz Sasaki either flamed or flaked out, depending on how you look at it. Forced into the closer's role, Hasegawa was masterful, recording sixteen saves with a 1.48 ERA, despite an astoundingly low thirty-two strike outs in seventy-three innings. (That's not even four per nine.) Given the K rate and his age, it was little surprise Hasegawa was never that good again, and he retired after last year.

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