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Taiyo Whales #26 Kazuhiko Kondo

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Taiyo Whales #26 Kazuhiko Kondo
This column is dedicated to my childhood nextdoor neighbor and idol, Mr. Kazuhiko Kondo. Kondo Kazu (distinguish from teammate Kondoh Akihito), as he was called, was a first baseman who played for the old Taiyo Whales (now Yokohama BayStars) between 1958 to 1973. He was a brilliant player who batted 0.285 lifetime during his 16 year career, runner-up 4-times as a batting champ in 1960, '61, '62, and '67. He had a great rivalry going with Shigeo Nagashima. Especially in '60 and '61, Nagashima end up winning the batting champ.

He was a member of the Japan Champion Taiyo Whales of 1960 when he batted third. He was truely a unique batsman with possibly the most unusual batting stance in NPB history. His nickname was "The Balance Scale" because he held his bat like a balance scale.

He was also a great human being. Always friendly and courteous, he never refused to play stickball with us when we asked. He was the first man who taught baseball to me (my father couldn't play). He also taught me his patented batting style. I never understood why he held the bat that way until I started to play ball in junior and senior high school. It was meant to be a way to relax at the plate by holding the bat lightly.

Overall, he was just a super guy. My eternal baseball hero.

He was active in NPB after he retired, coaching for Whales, BayStars, and Nippon Ham. He was also a commentator for Pro-Yakyu News, a popular baseball news show on Fuji-TV. He passed away this past June.
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