Famed Japanese Pro Baseball Manager Takeshi Koba Dies at 85

Sports Society

Tokyo, Nov. 16 (Jiji Press)--Takeshi Koba, who managed the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in the 1970s and 1980s, and led the professional baseball team to the Japan Series victory three times, died last Friday, his family said Tuesday. He was 85.

Koba, a native of the city of Kumamoto, southwestern Japan, started his career as a pro baseball player in 1958, at the Central League team based in the western Japan city of Hiroshima. He played as shortstop and second baseman.

He won the league's title of most bases stolen in 1964 and 1968. He moved to the Nankai Hawks of the Pacific League, now the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, in 1970 and retired the following year. During his 14-year professional career, Koba collected a total of 1,369 hits, earned 334 runs batted in and scored a batting average of .252.

In 1975, Koba, who was a coach for the Carp, took over as the team skipper following the departure of Joe Lutz soon after the start of the season. He led the team to the Central League championship for the first time ever that year with star players such as Koji Yamamoto and the late Sachio Kinugasa, to the delight of many Hiroshima citizens.

Koba grew the team into a formidable force with his strong passion and intense practices, helping it win its second league title in 1979. In that season, the Carp won the Japan Series for the first time, beating the then Kintetsu Buffaloes from the Pacific League.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press