Sadaharu Oh: King of Japanese Baseball Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

It is only fitting that one of the Japanese words for KING, Oh, is also the name of one of the greatest clutch-hitters in Japanese baseball history, Sadaharu Oh.

 

Known as the “Japanese Babe Ruth”, Oh often thrilled Tokyo fans with home runs that:
started the games’ scoring (on 186 occasions), brought his team, the Yomiuri Giants from behind to tie a tight ballgame (on 83 occasions) or thrust them into the lead (47 times).

And, like his American counterparts in the 500 Home Run Club, when Sadaharu Oh got “in a groove” it was sayonara (good-bye) baseball.  His penchant for hitting game winning home runs solidified the term “Sayonara Homers” (a.k.a. “Walk-Off” home run in the U.S).  He had a total of eight Sayonara home runs to clinch games for his team, and he hit the ball entirely out of the ballpark on 29 occasions.
"Whether you're in America or Japan," said Sadaharu Oh in a 1977 interview with Sports Illustrated., "the home run is the ultimate challenge…and the ultimate achievement.”
And he would know, having hit more home runs than anyone else in the history of the game – 868, including 15 Grand Slams.  

Oh had 95 multi-homer games in his 22-year career, including: 90 two-homer games, 4 three-homer games, and 1 four-homer games.  

These amazing batting stats led him to win two consecutive Triple Crowns in 1973 and 1974 and nine MVP Awards.  In addition, Oh hit for average and in the clutch; leading the league:
in batting average 5 times,
in runs scored 15 times,
in total hits 3 times,
in homers 15 times,
in RBIs 13 times and
in slugging percentage 14 times.  

As a result, he was named an All-Star in 20 of his 22 seasons.

Although known for his batting, Oh was an excellent all-around player and was named the best first baseman in his league at the end of 18 seasons (the award is called the Best Nine).  He also won the first 9 Gold Gloves awarded in the last nine years of his career. 





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