Hall of Fame pitcher Shigeru Sugishita, who was best known for his mastery of what has become Japanese baseball's trademark pitch, the forkball, has died, his former team, the Chunichi Dragons, said Friday. He was 97.
Known as "the God of the forkball," Sugishita won 215 career games, all but four for the Dragons between 1949 and 1958. He won three Sawamura Awards as the Central League's most impressive starting pitcher.
Sugishita was the CL's MVP in 1954 when the Dragons won their first league pennant and Japan Series, with the right-hander named the series' MVP.
He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
Sugishita died Monday in Tokyo of interstitial pneumonia, the team said.