Sadaharu Oh

Sadaharu Oh 王貞治

  • Sadaharu Oh (b. May 20, 1940)
  • Homerun king
  • from Tokyo
  • Perhaps the greatest player in Japanese baseball history
  • First baseman for the Tokyo Giants
  • Coached Japan to a World Championship

Sadaharu Oh is the best-known baseball player in the pre-Hideo Nomo/Ichiro/Hideki Matsui era to have emerged from the Japanese professional leagues. Prior to the move to the Majors by the current crop of Japanese stars, American baseball fans could name but one player: Oh.

Sadahara Oh, Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Born in Tokyo to a Chinese father and Japanese mother, Oh remains a citizen of Taiwan. He has lived his entire life in Japan and speaks no Chinese. He was a star for the Yomiuri Giants team that won nine straight Japan Series championships. He is best remembered though for breaking Hank Aaron's home run record. He finished his career with 868 home runs.

Following a legendary appearance at Koshien, Japan's national high school baseball tournament in which he pitched through tremendous pain often with no restwinning in spite of bleeding profusely each dayhe joined the Yomiuri Giants in 1959.

He signed on as a pitcher, but soon realized his talents lay elsewhere.

He led the league in home runs fifteen times, RBIs for thirteen seasons. In addition, he was the batting champion five times, taking home Triple Crown honors three times.

By the time he retired in 1980, he had hit more homeruns than anyone anywhere, including Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. Many in the US however have dismissed this because of the smaller Japanese parks.

He was inducted into the Japanese baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.

Following his playing career, he has managed the Giants, the Japan national team, and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

Though successful, his career in managing has been tainted by charges of unsportsmanlike behavior. Three foreign sluggers have come close to eclipsing his single-season home run record. Each fell short. At the end of each their respective seasons, though, Randy Bass, Tuffy Rhodes, and Alex Cabrera were often given intentional walks as many managers ordered their pitchers not to pitch to them as a way of protecting the record. Oh himself was rumored by many to be guilty of this as his pitching staff consistently refused to challenge the foreign stars. Oh has always denied these charges.

Following intestinal surgery, Oh was for a time the manager for the Softbank Hawks.

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