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Eiji Sawamura

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Eiji Sawamura
Eiji Sawamura
Born: (1917-02-01)February 1, 1917
Ujiyamada, Mie Prefecture, Japanese Empire
Died: December 2, 1944(1944-12-02) (aged 27)
SS Hawaii Maru, Pacific Ocean, off Yakushima, Japanese Empire
Japanese Baseball League debut
July 1, 1936, for the Tokyo Kyojin
Last appearance
October 24, 1943, for the Tokyo Kyojin
NPB statistics
As Player
Career highlights and awards
Member of the Japanese
Baseball Hall of Fame

Eiji Sawamura (沢村 栄治; February 1, 1917 – December 2, 1944) was a Japanese professional baseball player. A right-handed pitcher, he played in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants.

Early life[edit]

On November 20, 1934, the 17-year-old Sawamura faced a team of visiting all-star players from Major League Baseball, including Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, and Charlie Gehringer. Entering the game in the fourth inning, the high school pitcher struck out nine batters and held the Americans to a single run over five innings pitched; a home run by Gehrig in the seventh saddled Sawamura with the loss. However, he did manage to strike out Gehringer, Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx in succession. Connie Mack, who was managing the American team, was so impressed by Sawamura's performance that he tried to sign him to a Major League contract; Sawamura refused to go, citing a reluctance to leave home.

Professional career[edit]

The national attention of the 1934 exhibition game led to the formation of the Japanese Baseball League in 1936. Sawamura joined the Yomiuri Giants, which played in Tokyo and was owned by the Yomiuri Shimbun[1] newspaper. He became one of their aces. He pitched the first no-hitter in Japanese pro baseball, on September 25, 1936, and added two others (May 1, 1937 and July 6, 1940). In 1937, he went 33–10 with a 1.38 earned run average and was the named the league's Most Valuable Player. From 1937 to 1943, Sawamura accumulated 105 games pitched, a career record of 63-22, 554 strikeouts and a 1.74 ERA.

Personal life[edit]

Sawamura was drafted into the imperial Japanese army in 1939. He would be released from duties during baseball seasons, including after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He pitched in the 1942 and 1943 seasons, but not the truncated 1944 season (No pro games were played in 1945).

Sawamura was among soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division boarded on the troop ship SS Hawaii Maru in early December 1944, bound for Borneo via Japanese-occupied Manila in the Philippines. At 0400 in the morning of Dec. 2, 1944, the ship was torpedoed and sunk by USS Sea Devil off Yakushima, an island south of Kyushu. More than 300 soldiers and sailors were killed.

Sawamura was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1959. The Sawamura Award (Japan's equivalent to MLB's Cy Young Award), which is given to the best pitchers in the League since 1947, is named in his honor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN". THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN. Retrieved 2024-04-24.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Japanese Baseball League MVP
1937 (Spring)
Succeeded by