Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Former hitting great Eto dies

Kyodo News

Shinichi Eto, the first Japanese player to win batting titles in both leagues, died of liver cancer Thursday at a Tokyo hospital, his family said. He was 70. A native of Kumamoto Prefecture, Eto started his professional career in 1959 with the Chunichi Dragons and won back-to-back Central League batting titles with a .323 average in 1964 and .336 in 1965. Six years later, Eto led the Pacific League with a .337 average for the Lotte Orions. The 11-time All-Star player had a .287 career batting average with 367 homers and 1,189 RBIs in 2,084 games in 18 seasons through 1976. He served as player-manager for the Taiheiyo Club Lions in 1975.