Daryl Spencer, a key member of the Hankyu Braves’ Pacific League dynasty of the 1960s and early 1970s, has died, according to a report in a newspaper from his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. He was 88.
Spencer died Monday, the Wichita Eagle reported without disclosing the cause. He played 10 seasons in the majors before moving to the Braves — the forerunners of the current Orix Buffaloes — in 1964.
Spencer, who became known in Japan as “Doctor Baseball,” was famous for hard slides on the base paths. Within a few years of his arrival, the frequency of double plays by the Braves and PL hitters sharply decreased.
Although he did not introduce the tactic to Japan as he once claimed, Spencer’s aggressiveness had the same kind of impact in the PL that Hall of Fame outfielder Wally Yonamine’s base running had in the Central League 10 years earlier.
During seven seasons in Japan, Spencer finished with a .275 batting average, 152 home runs and 391 runs batted in.
The Braves, one of NPB’s oldest teams, won their first pennant in 1967 under Hall of Fame manager Yukio Nishimoto, and repeated in 1968. But Spencer left the club after that season. The Braves won again in 1969 without him but finished fourth in 1970. Spencer returned as a player-coach for two more seasons, when the Braves won their last two PL pennants under Nishimoto.
Despite lording over the PL for years, Nishimoto’s Braves lost all five of their Japan Series appearances to the Yomiuri Giants.
In his debut year in NPB, Spencer hit 36 home runs and drove in 94 runs for the Braves, who matched the franchise’s best record until then by finishing second after five straight second-division finishes.
He hit another 38 homers in his second season in 1965, when he won his second straight PL Best Nine Award at second base.
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