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1,000 moonlight grounders – Kuninobu Sunaoshi passes

by on Jul.24, 2010 @ 3:26 am, under Other

A little late, but better late than never...  Kuninobu Sunaoshi passed away on the 18th at the age of 87.  He is survived by his wife, Masako.

Sunaoshi was known as the coach of 1,000 moonlight grounders (月夜の千本ノック) -- players would take fielding drills that consisted of 1,000 grounders and with balls coated with lime (it gave the balls a glow).

Shigeo Nagashima worked under the tutelage of Sunaoshi during his Rikkio days and told reporters that while most people mention the 1,000 moonlight grounders, he remembers his college manager for his 1,000 moonlight swings.  Nagashima also remembers how Sunaoshi often pushed him to run the distance between the player dorms to Sunaoshi's house after practice (which would then be following by practice swinging).

Sunaoshi became manager of the Rikkio University baseball team in 1950 at the age of 27.  After taking the team to a championship in 1953, Sunaoshi stepped down as manager of the team in 1955.  But his reasons for stepping down weren't necessarily his own.  It seems the players started something of a revolt for the tough practice sessions he held.  Some players began quitting and that ultimately led to Sunaoshi stepping down as manager.

In 1961, he took over as manager of Kokutetsu Swallows for two seasons and returned for a second stint partway through the 1965 season.  He finished his pro managerial career with a 160-220-11 record.

On Thursday, about 300 people attended Sunaoshi's wake.  And on Friday, about 100 people showed up for his funeral services