TOKYO (Kyodo) -- SoftBank Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo won the Shoriki award for the fourth time in his career and his third time as a manager on Wednesday.
The Matsutaro Shoriki Award is named after the visionary owner of the Yomiuri Shimbun who was the driving force behind Japan's current pro baseball establishment. The annual award is meant to honor the manager, player, coach or umpire who contributes the most to pro baseball in Japan.
Kudo managed the Hawks, who were plagued with injuries all season, to their third straight Japan Series championship after the club finished second in the Pacific League and had to advance to Nippon Professional Baseball's final by beating the defending league champion Seibu Lions on the road in the playoffs.
"I feel so happy," said Kudo, who previously won as a player in 1987, and as manager in 2015 and 2018. "This award is the product of everyone's efforts."
The Shoriki award was first given to Hall of Fame slugger Sadaharu Oh in 1977, after he surpassed the total of then major league career home run leader, Hank Aaron. With his fourth award, Kudo matches Oh, who is currently the Hawks' chairman. Oh currently serves as the chairman of the Shoriki award selection committee.
"All we've done has moved me a little closer toward my role model, chairman Oh," Kudo said.
Kudo's feat of winning in consecutive years has been accomplished once before, by Ichiro Suzuki, then a young outfielder, in 1994 and 1995.