Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Sawamura winner Kobayashi dies at 57

Kyodo News

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters pitching coach Shigeru Kobayashi died of heart failure at a hospital in Fukui on Sunday, the club said. He was 57.

Kobayashi won 18 games in 1976 and again in 1977 to help the Yomiuri Giants win the Central League title both seasons before being dealt to the Hanshin Tigers during the 1978 offseason in a controversial trade that saw top amateur pitcher Suguru Egawa join Yomiuri.

Yomiuri said the day before the 1978 draft that it had signed a deal with Egawa as a free agent and boycotted the draft in protest after then-CL chairman Ryuji Suzuki did not approve the move.

In the draft Hanshin won the right to negotiate a deal with Egawa but later traded him for Kobayashi, as requested by then-Japanese baseball commissioner Toshi Kaneko.

Kobayashi posted a league-leading 22 wins, including eight in a row against Yomiuri, in his first season with Hanshin.

The sidearm right-hander had a 139-95 record with 17 saves and a 3.18 ERA in his 11-year career through 1983.

In 1977 and 1979, he won the Sawamura Award, the Japanese equivalent of the major league Cy Young Award.