Looking back: Death of a Catching Legend
TOKYO — The sporting world in Japan mourned the loss of one of its all-time stars, Katsuya Nomura, who died on February 11, 2020 at age 84, from a heart attack. Nomura was one of the most prolific batters in the history of Japanese baseball.
Over a 26-year career, spent mostly as a catcher with the Nankai Hawks, now the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, Nomura won the Pacific League Most Valuable Player title five times; became the first batter in the postwar era to win a Triple Crown in the Nippon Professional Baseball, in 1965; and, with 657 career home runs and 1,988 RBIs, is second only on the lifetime list to Sadaharu Oh.
As a manager, he led the Yakult Swallows to four Central League titles and three Japan Series championships. He was elected to the Japanese baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
Raised in poverty in Western Honshu, Nomura joined the Hawks at age 18 after a tryout. At 5'9" and 185 pounds, and built like a fire hydrant, he was not physically imposing. His nickname was "Moose" for his long drooping face.