As a manager, Nagashima could inspire his players. John Sipin, a former San Diego Padre who played with the Giants from 1978 to 1980 after five years with the Taiyo Whales, recalls, “Nagashima was a great leader. He was a legend and had extremely high energy. Unlike most managers, he would not go into the dugout and sit down. He was always on the field, hitting fly balls or ground balls.” Nagashima especially liked aggressive players who showed “fighting spirit” and rewarded them with compliments and playing time. His enthusiasm was infectious and most of his players trained and played hard for him.
Nagashima’s ability as a strategist, however, did not match his enthusiasm. He rarely played percentage baseball. Instead, he relied on a bizarre combination of traditional conservative Japanese baseball tactics and irrational hunches. After a lead-off hitter reached base, Nagashima routinely used the second batter to bunt the runner over, even when the Giants trailed by large margins. He rarely employed pinch runners, even when a slow catcher representing the tying run stood on second in the late innings. He bunched his like-handed hitters together in the lineup, instead of interspersing lefties with righties. Most importantly, he did not stick to a steady pitching rotation. He often started pitchers who were throwing well on short rest and continually used starters in relief. Nagashima was also intolerant of pitching mistakes and routinely pulled pitchers at the first sign of trouble.
He seems to have done better the second time around, during the 1990s.