Baseball mourns the passing of Japanese legend Katsuya Nomura

Baseball mourns the passing of Japanese legend Katsuya Nomura
He was considered the greatest Japanese slugging catcher of all time. He is second on the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) all-time home run list after Sadaharu Oh. As a manager, he led the Yakult Swallows to three championships.

The baseball world is mourning the passing of Katsuya Nomura, one of Japan's greatest players. Namura died in Tokyo on Tuesday, 11 February, at the age of 84.

Katsuya Nomura was a great catcher. He was voted the best at his position a record 19 times. As a hitter, he will be remembered for finishing second on the all-time home run list after Sadaharu Oh. Namura hit 657 home runs in 3,107 games. He also collected 2,901 hits.

As a player, Nomura spent the bulk of his career (1954-1977) with the Osaka Nankai Hawks. The team later moved to Fukuoka. Today it's owned by SoftBank, a technology giant. Nomura spent his final three seasons with the Lotte Orions (1978; today they are named the Lotte Marines) and the Seibu Lions (1979-1980). He retired as a player after the 1980 season, at age 45. He was inducted into the Japanese Hall of Fame in 1989.

He had started managing the Hawks as a player in 1970 and led them to the Pacific League title in 1973. He went on to manage the Yakult Swallows (1990-1998), the Hanshin Tigers (1999-2001) and the Rakuten Golden Eagles (2006-2009). He had the most success with the Swallows, leading them to four Central League titles and three Japan Series.

Atsunori Inaba, the current Samurai Japan manager, was on his championship roster in 1995 and 1997.

Katsuya Nomura once said: "Nomura minus baseball equals zero. There would be nothing left if you take baseball away from me."

The cover picture is courtesy of The Japan Times/Kyodo