Today’s Doodle honours Japanese baseball star Sachio Kinugasa, who turns 76 today. In 1987, he broke the record for most consecutive baseball games played, which he maintained for the next nine years.
Kinugasa was born on this day in 1947 in Kyoto, Japan, to a Japanese mother and an African American father, and as a child, he was teased for being mixed race.
He began playing baseball at Heian Buddhist High School and rose to prominence as a national high school tournament infielder. He was signed by the Hiroshima Carp baseball team in 1965. He was a steady hitter with approximately 15 home runs per year for 20+ years and was part of the starting lineup as a third baseman a few years later.
Kinugasa was devoted to the game, playing a record-breaking 2,215 consecutive games, even while suffering from damaged bones. To him, missing a game was more agonising than playing while wounded, earning him the moniker Tetsujin (Iron Man). While he is most remembered for his consecutive game record, Kinugasa was a well-rounded player who ranks seventh in career home runs with a grand total of 504, sixth in lifetime hits and tenth in career runs batted in. He helped the Carp capture their first league championship in 1975.
He won several honours for his athletic abilities. Kinugasa was voted Central League MVP in 1984 after leading Japan to a championship series victory. In 1996, he was admitted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame and became the second baseball player to earn the Prime Minister of Japan’s People’s Honor Award for achievements in sports and entertainment. Kinugasa, a lifelong baseball fan, became a TBS baseball broadcaster after leaving the Carp.
Happy birthday, Sachio Kinugasa, a baseball player who stole numerous bases and hearts!