Ex-Baseball Star Pitcher Choji Murata Dies after Fire

Society Sports

Tokyo, Nov. 11 (Jiji Press)--Former prominent Japanese professional baseball pitcher Choji Murata, who played for the Tokyo Orions and its successor, the Lotte Orions, has died after a fire that broke out in his home early Friday. He was 72.

Firefighters received a phone call around 3:15 a.m. (6:15 p.m. Thursday GMT) reporting that black smoke was coming out of Murata's two-story home in the Seijo district of Tokyo's Setagaya Ward.

According to the Seijo police station of Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department, Murata was rushed to hospital but was soon confirmed dead. The police are investigating the cause of the fire.

The police station and the Tokyo Fire Department said that the fire burned some 40 square meters of the second floor and was extinguished around 6:50 a.m. Murata is believed to have been on the second floor alone when the fire started. He apparently died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Murata, a native of the western Japan prefecture of Hiroshima, joined the Tokyo Orions as the first pick in the 1967 draft. The right-hander was known for his dynamic "masakari," or ax, pitching style, and was nicknamed "Sunday Choji" for frequently taking the mound on Sundays. The Lotte Orions are now called the Chiba Lotte Marines.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press