Today’s Doodle commemorates Japanese baseball player Sachio Kinugasa’s 76th birthday. In 1987, he set the record for most consecutive baseball games played, which he held for the next nine years.
Kinugasa was born in Kyoto, Japan, on this day in 1947 to a Japanese mother and an African American father; as a child, he was bullied for being of mixed race.
He began playing baseball at the Heian Buddhist High School and rose to prominence in the national high school tournament as an infielder. He was signed by the Hiroshima Carp baseball team in 1965. A few years later, he joined the starting lineup as a third baseman and was a consistent home run hitter for over 20 years, averaging around 15 per season.
Kinugasa was devoted to the sport and played a record-setting 2,215 consecutive games despite suffering from fractured bones. For him, missing a game was more painful than playing while injured, earning him the nickname Tetsujin (Iron Man). Kinugasa was a well-rounded player who ranks seventh in career home runs with 504, fifth in career hits, and tenth in career runs batted in. He is best known for his consecutive game streak. In 1975, he contributed to the Carp’s first-ever league championship.
He received numerous awards for his athletic accomplishments. In 1984, Kinugasa was named Most Valuable Player of the Central League for winning the Japanese championship series. He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996 and was the second baseball player to receive the Prime Minister of Japan’s People’s Honor Award for achievements in sports and entertainment. Kinugasa, a lifelong fan of the sport, became a baseball announcer for TBS after his retirement from the Carp.
Sachio Kinugasa, a baseball player who stole countless bases and hearts, has a birthday today.