Masahiro Yamamoto and Shingo Takatsu elected to Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame

Side-arm closer Shingo Takatsu and seemingly ageless lefty Masahiro Yamamoto were announced as the newest members of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday.

Takatsu was named on 311 ballots cast by 10-year veterans of Japan’s baseball media voting on candidates in the hall’s players division. Yamamoto was named on 307, with 271 being the 75% threshold needed for election.

The two were joined by the late Shigeyoshi Matsumae, the founder of Tokai University who worked to popularize baseball in foreign countries, particularly Russia. He died in 1991.

Currently the manager of the NPB champion Tokyo Yakult Swallows, Takatsu barely missed election last year. Yamamoto was second in last year’s ballot, when no candidates from the players division were elected.

Takatsu saved 286 games in Japan, 27 more in MLB with the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets, and eight more in South Korea, before earning 26 in 2010, his final pro season, in Taiwan.

The durable right-hander’s saves total in Japan is the second most all-time.

Yamamoto went 219-165 with five saves in his career, all spent with the Chunichi Dragons in the Central League. He led the CL in wins three times, was voted as the league’s top pitcher twice and won the Sawamura Award as NPB’s top pitcher in 1994.

Active until past his 50th birthday, Yamamoto set a number of longevity records, including throwing a no-hitter at the age of 41, and winning a game at the age of 49.

Two-time former CL MVP Alex Ramirez was third in the players division voting, receiving 209 votes, 62 shy of the total needed.

Former Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda received 165 votes in his first year on the ballot.

No new members were elected from the experts division, where a body of existing Hall of Famers and 15-year veterans of the baseball media vote. Only one candidate, former Hanshin Tigers slugger Randy Bass, received significant support.

Bass, who won two CL triple crowns and was the 1985 Most Valuable Player the year Hanshin won its lone Japan Series championship, was named on 106 of the 146 ballots cast, four short of the number needed for induction.

The vote marked the second straight year in which the experts division failed to elect anyone.

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