If you are a true baseball fan then you probably already know the name Sadaharu Oh. However, if you have not really followed Japanese baseball, then you may not be as familiar. Well, now would be the time, because the man is truly a living legend. He has the greatest number of career home runs, outdistancing even Hank Aaron here in the States. Then, when his career in the major leagues as a player ended, he became a legend as a manager.
He became such a legend that when other players got the chance to play for his team, they jumped at the chance. For example, pitching superstar Yao-Hsun Yang. Yang had been a star playing for the Chinese Cultural University for years, while he was a teenaged phenom. Yang caused a major stir, being a Japanese player and signing with a Chinese team. The contrevorsy died down once it was made public that Oh would be his manager.
To fully understand why the name Sadaharu Oh should be said with reverence within the world of baseball, you need to fully understand his career. Just from a statistical point of view he is a true legend.
Oh spent the entirety of his career with the Yomiuri Giants. He played from 1959 to 1980. Once he retired from baseball he became a manager and continues to manage, again racking up impressive stats. What really makes Oh the champ when it comes to his ability as a batter is the sheer number of home runs he notched while playing.
When Oh retired he had a career batting average of .301. He also had a dazzling 868 home runs - a total number of homers that stands to this day and seems unlikely to be broken, according to many. He also has 2,786 hits and 2,170 RBI. He has appeared 11 times in the Japanese championship series. He was also a nine-time league MVP for the Japanese Central League.
When Oh retired, he switched from being a player and put down his bat, to take up the uniform and his hat to become a manager. Before too long, he was managing the Giants, the same team that had made him a legend behind the plate. He led the Giants to the pennant in 1987. Then he became the manager for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. He led that team to three pennants in 1999, 2000 and 2003. In 1999 and 2003 he even led the team to Japan Series titles
These days Oh spends time managing the various charities he works with, including World Children’s Baseball Fair http://www.wcbf.org/, the one he started with Hank Aaron. He had stomach surgery to remove cancer that had been found there just a few years ago. He is still considered a legend, and still keeps his hand in with the baseball teams that continue to employ him in upper management roles. The man is in his eighties, but he continues to remain active in the sport that he loved, and promoting the sport as a way to united people from all cultures around the world. Little has stopped him from his desire to promote the sport despite language and cultural barriers.