Baseball: Ex-Hiroshima manager Koba dies at 85

© Kyodo News

Former Hiroshima Carp manager Takeshi Koba, who skippered the Central League club to its first four pennants and three Japan Series titles, has died, his family said through the team Tuesday. He was 85.

Koba, who died from an undisclosed condition Friday, took the reins in Hiroshima early in the 1975 season and steered the franchise to the first CL title of its 26-year history. He went on to foster a golden era for the Carp during his 11-year tenure.

An infielder during his playing days, the Kumamoto native led the CL twice in stolen bases with Hiroshima. He also managed the now-defunct Taiyo Whales, a predecessor of the DeNA BayStars, for three seasons from 1987.

Koba, who also managed at university level, had an 873-791 record with 137 ties in Nippon Professional Baseball. He was named to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

His playing career, starting in 1958, also included a stint with the former Nankai Hawks, now the SoftBank Hawks. In 1,501 games, he batted .252 with 1,369 hits, 44 homers and 334 RBIs.