Baseball: Former Tigers great Tabuchi elected to Hall of Fame

©Kyodo News

Slugging Hanshin Tigers catcher Koichi Tabuchi was elected into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

He was joined in the hall's class of 2020 by the late Tokyo Six University League managers Yukichi Maeda of Keio and Renzo Ishii of Waseda.

The 73-year-old Tabuchi is the third catcher elected since 2015. He hit 474 career home runs, the 11th most in Nippon Professional Baseball history.

But playing in the same league as Japan's all-time home run king, Sadaharu Oh, Tabuchi was only able to win one league home run title. In 1975, he hit 43 and snapped Oh's 13-year run as Central League home run leader.

The CL's 1969 rookie of the year, Tabuchi won five straight Best Nine awards as the league's top catcher from 1972 to 1976.

In 1979, Tabuchi left the CL for the Pacific League's Seibu Lions and helped them win back-to-back Japan Series championships in 1982 and 1983, the year he won the Matsutaro Shoriki Award for making the year's greatest contribution to Japanese pro baseball.

After his final season as a player in 1984, Tabuchi managed the PL's Daiei Hawks, now known as the SoftBank Hawks, from 1990 to 1992 and later served as head coach and hitting coach for Japan's 2008 Olympic team.