Wednesday, August 7, 1996
ANSWER: The Hawaii Nisei, who became known as one of Japan's greatest pitchers, died March 5, 1965, in Tokyo at age 57.
Wakabayashi, voted into Japan's baseball Hall of Fame in December 1964, was recovering from surgery for an intestinal ulcer. His condition deteriorated, and he returned to a hospital the month before he died.
After his 1927 graduation from McKinley High School, where the Wahiawa-born Wakabayashi starred on the mound, he went to Japan with a Hawaiian semipro team. Later, he became a university athlete and single-handedly pitched Hosei University of Tokyo to three championships in the Tokyo Big-Six University League.
Soon after professional baseball began in Japan, the Hawaii ace first pitched for the Osaka Tigers and later the Tokyo Orions. He was picked the most valuable player in 1944 and 1947. He later managed the Osaka Tigers, then became player and assistant manager of the newly organized Daimai Orions in Tokyo.
In his 16-year pitching career, Wakabayashi won 243 games, third most in Japan baseball records, and lost 141. His earned run average was 1.99.