Senichi Hoshino, the last Japanese manager of New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka and a Hall of Famer, has died, the Rakuten Eagles said Saturday. He was 70.
Hoshino, the vice chairman of the Eagles in the Pacific League and a former star pitcher of the Central League's Chunichi Dragons, died Thursday after having battled pancreatic cancer, the PL club said.
He joined the Dragons out of Meiji University in 1969 and won a Sawamura Award as the CL's most impressive starting pitcher in 1974, posting a career record 146-121 with 34 saves in his 14-years with the CL club.
Despite being a larger-than-life character as a pitcher, Hoshino found his real calling as a manager, winning four league pennants with three different teams, the Dragons, the Hanshin Tigers, also in the CL, and the Eagles.
Hoshino managed the Eagles for four years from 2011 and led the club to their first league pennant and Japan Series championship in the club's ninth year in 2013 with Tanaka, then Rakuten Eagles ace pitcher who posted a 24-0 record that season before joining the Yankees.
"It is such a surprise, I can hardly believe it," said Tanaka, who recorded the final out of the 2013 Japan Series in relief after his Game 6 complete-game defeat.
"Winning Japan's championship, and throwing manager Hoshino in the air in the 'doage' celebration are important memories of my baseball career. He supported my playing in the majors and I am filled with gratitude."
Hoshino also managed the Japanese national team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was inducted into Japan's Baseball Hall of Fame last January.
According to the Eagles, Hoshino was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis in July 2016.
Hoshino (R) with fellow of Hall of Famers Shigeo Nagashima (C) and Sadaharu Oh at the World Baseball Classic in March 2009.