Junzo Sekine, a Hall of Famer and former manager who split his playing career between the mound and the batter's box, has died at the age of 93, a source familiar with the matter said Thursday.
Sekine managed the Yokohama-based Taiyo Whales, the predecessor of the DeNA BayStars, and later the Yakult Swallows. Sekine was a rarity in that he not only pitched 1,000-plus innings but also amassed over 1,000 hits.
He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.
Pitching from 1950 to 1957 for the Pacific League's Kintetsu franchise, Sekine toiled on the mound for what was one of the worst teams in Nippon Professional Baseball history. A part-time position player for his first three pro seasons, Sekine was converted to the outfield in 1957 just after he turned 30, and amassed 1,137 career hits.
Sekine retired after the 1965 season, and in 1970 became a coach for the Hiroshima Carp. The late Sachio Kinugasa, a Hall of Fame third baseman for the Carp, cited Sekine as an important influence in his development as a hitter.
From 1982 to 1984, Sekine managed the Whales. He then managed the Swallows from 1987 to 1989. During his brief stay with Yakult, the club developed a number of players who would be instrumental in the team's four Central League pennants under his successor, the late Katsuya Nomura.