(L-R): Ritsuo Horimoto, pitcher from the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants and Tokyo Orions; Peter O’Malley; and Masaichi Kaneda, pitcher from the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants and Kokutetsu Swallows. O’Malley welcomes Horimoto and Kaneda to Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, circa 1967. Kaneda won 400 games (the only professional pitcher from Japan to win that total) and is in the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame.


Masaichi Kaneda

Masaichi Kaneda was the only pitcher in the history of Japan baseball to record 400 wins. Nicknamed “The Emperor,” he was inducted into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. Although he spent the bulk of his career with the Kokutetsu Swallows (1950-1964), the left-hander did play five seasons for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants (1965-1969). When the Dodgers went on their two Goodwill Tours to Japan in 1956 and 1966, Kaneda was a formidable foe. The Giants visited Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida for spring training in 1967 and the future Hall of Famer was photographed with future Dodger Hall of Fame right-handed pitcher Don Sutton. Who might have known then that the two would win a total of 724 professional games? Sutton at the time had only won 12 games! Fourteen times Kaneda won 20 or more games in a season, while he won the Eiji Sawamura Award 3 straight seasons for the Swallows (1956-1958). Known as the most dominant pitcher in Japan baseball, Kaneda tossed two no-hitters, including a perfect game on August 21, 1957. He held career records for 365 complete games, 4,490 strikeouts and 5,526 and 2/3 innings pitched. As Manager of the Lotte Orions from 1973-1978 and 1990-1991, Kaneda won 471 games and the Japan Series in 1974. Peter O’Malley and Kaneda corresponded and exchanged Christmas cards until Kaneda passed on October 6, 2019 at age 86.