Sadaharu Oh Museum Honors Japan’s Greatest Slugger Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
While baseball will always be known as “America’s Game,” there can be no doubt the people of Japan are equally fanatical about the sport, and just as proud of their baseball heroes.   The opening of the Sadaharu Oh Museum within the Yahoo Dome complex located in Fukuoka (Kyodo) Japan in mid-2010 is a fitting tribute to the man known as the “Japanese Babe Ruth.”

"I am just so happy that such a great museum was made for me," the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks chairman said at an opening ceremony, which was attended by Hawks owner Masayoshi Son.  “I'm grateful I played baseball and hope visitors will enjoy the museum."

Loaded with photos, video, memorabilia and tons of historical information and nostalgia for the long ball (especially the Sayanora a.k.a. game ending, walk off home run that Oh was famous for), the Sadaharu Oh Museum is located inside the Softbank Hawks home ballpark.  For those scheduling a visit during the off-season, note that it is also accessible from the outside with the entrance opposite the Hilton Sea Hawk Hotel on the outfield side of the dome, which is not far from the famous Fukuoka Tower

The facility is dedicated to Oh, his life in Japanese baseball as a player with the Yomiuri Giants and later manager of the Giants and the Fukuoka Daiei and Softbank Hawks, and the champion Japan team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  The wonderfully interactive museum is divided into sections commemorating Oh's career with the Giants during which he hit 868 home runs, his time as manager of the Hawks and his experience in leading Japan to the first World Baseball Classic title almost five years ago.

There are great photos of spectacular moments in Oh's era, from his high school heroics as a pitcher in the national tournament at Koshien Stadium in 1957, to his turning professional and joining the Giants in 1959, to his milestone home runs, to retirement as an active player following the 1980 season.  You can also see photos of a young Oh, working with mentor Hiroshi Arakawa in a tatami room, practicing his one-legged stance and swing with a sword while trying to cut a card suspended from a string in order to develop the excellent timing that later allowed him to become one of the greatest hitters in baseball anywhere.  Oh and teammate Shigeo "Mr. Giants" Nagashima led their team to a sixth consecutive Central League pennant and Japan Series title in 1970, and they would go on to add three more to make it nine in a row in 1973.

A mini-theater projects video scenes of Oh's 600th and 700th career home runs as well as the dramatic scene at Tokyo's Korakuen Stadium in 1977 when he hit No. 756 to break the world record of 755, then held by Hank Aaron. Oh's bats, spike shoes, first baseman's mitt and other items are also on display.

Since the museum is in Fukuoka and Oh, at age 70 has a long history with the Hawks ballclub, there is a significant amount of space devoted to his 15-year stint as the Daiei-Softbank manager from 1994 to 2008. His uniforms are there along with photos of his winning Japan Series titles in 1999 and 2003 and the WBC trophy in 2006. 

For more details, click here

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