• Kyodo

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Kimiyasu Kudo, who steered the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks to their second straight Japan Series title in his first year as manager, was named the winner of the Matsutaro Shoriki Award on Thursday.

Kudo, 52, won the award by a unanimous vote and becomes only the third recipient as both a player and a manager after Sadaharu Oh and Koji Akiyama. Kudo won it as a pitcher with the Seibu Lions in 1987.

“It is a prestigious award so I am delighted to receive it,” said Kudo. “I want to thank the players because this is down to their hard work.”

Under Kudo, Softbank won 90 games in the regular season for the first time in 59 years en route to a second consecutive Pacific League title.

The Hawks swept the Chiba Lotte Marines in the final stage of the Climax Series and went on to beat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4-1 in back-to-back Japan Series titles for the first time in the club’s history.

“It was an easy decision (on who to name the winner) this year,” said Oh, the only four-time winner, who is head of the selection committee and also chairman of the Hawks. “He created the fantastic image of a manager.”

Along with Oh, baseball commentators Shigeru Sugishita, Futoshi Nakanishi, Koji Yamamoto and nonfiction writer Ryusho Kadota were on the selection committee.

The award, created by the Yomiuri Shimbun in honor of Yomiuri Giants founder Matsutaro Shoriki, is given annually to recognize individuals for their contributions to professional baseball in Japan. In addition to his role in creating the Giants, Shoriki was the driving force in the creation of Japan’s first pro league.

The award was first handed out to Oh in 1977, when he surpassed major league home run king Hank Aaron’s career home run total (755).

Shoriki award winners receive ¥5 million in prize money.

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