Aaron and Oh Join Forces To Promote Baseball Worldwide Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Arguably the two greatest home run hitters of all-time, Hank Aaron and Sadaharu Oh, met at Tokyo’s Korakuen Stadium in November 1974 to showcase their legendary power and to determine – once and for all – who was greatest home run hitter on the planet.


Hammerin’ Hank defeated the Yomiuri Giant great 10-9 to take home the global “Home Run King” bragging rights, but later said the competition hadn't really proved anything.  "I was happy to come to Japan and engage in the contest with Oh,” Aaron said.  “But it doesn't necessarily prove that I'm a better hitter than Oh because it wasn’t under game conditions and we didn’t bat against pitchers who wanted to strike us out," Hank added, in the sportsmanlike manner for which he is famous.

The contest before 50,000 was based on the number of home runs either Aaron or Oh could rap out on 20 fair balls. They alternated with five fair-hit swings each. Foul balls didn't count. Aaron slammed 10 out of 18 fair balls for homers. Oh connected on nine out of 20.

Oh, who was 34 at the time, was generally considered the contest favorite. He had been playing against the visiting New York Mets all week and just recently finished playing in the Japan Central League pennant race.

Hank, 40, on the other hand, had not had any batting practice for more than a month and "was feeling rusty."

Then how is it Aaron won the contest? If he was rusty and tired from the long trip from the United States, he didn't show it.  "I won it (the contest) because it was a home run contest," Aaron explained. "I waited for my pitches and I'm a very patient guy.”

The contest was shown on stateside TV by CBS. Aaron was paid $50,000 for winning the "homer derby" and Oh received $20,000.
 
Years later, the two hitting greats would once again meet up for the purpose of promoting baseball worldwide.  On January 21, 2006 Aaron and Oh both attended a reception hosted at the Embassy of Japan to honor a long history of baseball exchange between Japan and the U.S., and to celebrate the first-ever World Baseball Classic.




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