• Kyodo

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Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo, who led the Pacific League club to their fourth straight Japan Series championship last month, was named winner of the Matsutaro Shoriki Award on Tuesday.

The prestigious award, which Kudo won for an unprecedented fifth time, is given annually to the manager or player who made the greatest contribution to Japanese professional baseball.

“I’m overjoyed with this honor,” Kudo said. “The encouragement from our fans led to us winning the league title and being the best in Japan.”

“From next season on, I want to do everything I can to contribute to the development of the baseball world.”

Kudo, 57, first won the Shoriki Award in 1987 as a pitcher for the Seibu Lions and went on to win in 2015, 2018 and 2019 after taking over as the Hawks’ manager.

It is the first time in the award’s history for an individual to win three consecutive years, and Kudo’s five selections surpassed the four won by Hall of Fame slugger Sadaharu Oh, the Hawks’ chairman.

“He successfully drew out the power of young players and invigorated the team,” said Oh, who also serves as chairman of the award’s selection committee.

After winning their first league pennant since 2017, Kudo’s Hawks swept the Yomiuri Giants for the second straight year and claimed their 11th Japan Series title in franchise history.

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