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Ochiai voted into Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame

Kyodo News

Chunichi Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai, the only player to win the Triple Crown three times, has been selected for induction into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame along with the late Mutsuo Minagawa, the selection panel announced Friday.

Ochiai, 57 and Minagawa, a star pitcher with the Nankai Hawks (now Fukuoka Softbank Hawks), were the only two selected, bringing the total of Hall of Fame inductees to 173.

“I have been helped by remarkable people and have received cooperation through my baseball career,” said Ochiai.

“I am absolutely delighted and filled with nothing but gratitude. I’d like to offer my thanks.”

One of the most feared sluggers in the game, Ochiai won his first Triple Crown in 1982 and also achieved the feat in 1985 and ’86 with the Lotte Orions (now Chiba Lotte Marines).

Ochiai was traded to Chunichi in 1987 and later went on to join the Yomiuri Giants as a free agent. In 1997, Ochiai joined the Nippon Ham Fighters at the age of 43. He retired at the conclusion of the 1998 season.

Over a 20-year career, Ochiai collected 2,371 hits and 1,564 RBIs with a .311 batting average. He narrowly missed out on a place in the Hall of Fame the past two years after failing to get the required number of votes.

Minagawa, who was selected in the baseball expert category, was a longtime hurler for Nankai. In 1968, he led the Pacific League in both wins (31) and ERA (1.61).

He has a lifetime 221-139 record over 18 years as a player, 15th on the all-time list.

The award ceremony for Ochiai and Minagawa will take place at Game 1 of the 2011 All-Star Series at Nagoya Dome in July.

Shibahara update

Kyodo News

Nippon Professional Baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato said Friday that Seibu Lions ace Hideaki Wakui’s case for salary arbitration has been accepted but Fukuoka Softbank Hawks outfielder Hiroshi Shibahara’s application has been put on hold.

Wakui filed for arbitration on Wednesday after his request for a pay raise was repeatedly turned down by the club this offseason.

His case is the first to be accepted since the Nippon Ham Fighters lost to left-hander Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi in 2001 and only the seventh time in which Japanese baseball contract talks have gone to arbitration.

A three-man committee will be formed to hold a hearing for both Wakui and the Lions on Jan. 21.