Sadaharu Oh’s Success Caused Splash on U.S. Side of the Pacific Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Sadaharu Oh says his record of 868 career home runs will not stand forever. In fact, in a 2009 interview, he predicted that Alex Rodriguez could hit has many as 1,000 home runs because his technique is sound and his physique is excellent for baseball hitting. To watch the interview, click on http://www.zimbio.com/watch/nj4kukUP_5w/Japan+homer+king+eyes+ARod/Sadaharu+Oh

In August of 1977, Sports Illustrated ran a cover story highlighting Oh’s dominance of the Japanese baseball and influence on the global game. In it, writer Frank DeFord posted the question of whether the man known as the “Japanese Babe Ruth” would have been able to compete in the U.S.

The response from U.S. contemporaries (players, coaches and managers alike) was virtually unanimous...Sadaharu Oh could be a dominant hitter in any league, even playing against the MLB’s best. Here’s how he matched up against MLB players of his era. In 13 Japan series games, Oh hit 25 home runs against visiting pitchers including: Hall-of-Famers Steve Carlton, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver.

"Whether you're in America or Japan," said Sadaharu Oh in the 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. Oh had 95 multi-homer games in his 22-year career, including: 90 two-homer games, 4 three-homer games, and 1 four-homer game. These amazing batting stats led him to win two consecutive Triple Crowns in 1973 and 1974 and nine MVP Awards. In addition, he was named an All-Star in 20 of his 22 seasons.

Here’s What Major Leaguers Had To Say About Sadaharu Oh

Davey Johnson (the only man to have been a teammate of Oh and Aaron): “Oh would have hit 700 homers in the US. He would be a good hitter anywhere in the world. Quality is still quality.”

Tom Seaver: “He sure hit me. He was a superb hitter, who hit consistently and with power. If he played in the U.S., he would have hit 20-25 home runs a year, and what’s more, he’d be a lifetime .300 hitter. He had tremendous discipline at the plate. He knew the strike zone extremely well. .He could pull your hard stuff, and you couldn’t fool him off-speed.”

Hal McRae: “Oh had tremendous patience as a hitter. I don’t know how many he would have hit here - start with 20 (a year) at least. He was a great All Star who would have been a Hall of Famer.”

Pete Rose: “There’s no question in my mind Oh would have hit 800 home runs if he’d played here. If he played in a park tailored to his swing, he’d have hit 35 homers a year and hit he’d hit .300, I’ll tell you that.”
Don Baylor: “Oh could have played anywhere at any time. If he played in Yankee Stadium, being the left handed pull hitter he is, I have no doubt he’d hit 40 home runs a year.”

Frank Howard: “He would have hit 30-35 home runs a year and hit from .280 -.320 and drive in up to 120 runs a year. The point being, he rates with the all-time stars of the game.”

Greg Luzinski: “There’s no question he’d have been a great player in the United States, that he was a super talent.”

Brooks Robinson: “He could have played in the big leagues with the best players in the world. Not as many home runs [as he hit in Japan], but he would have hit his share and hit for average. He was just an outstanding hitter.”

Frank Robinson: “I’m sure he would have hit in the 30’s [of homers per year] and probably in the low 40’s. Thirty home runs a year add up to over 600 home runs, and he’d do that if he played the same number of years here that he played there.”

Don Drysdale: “He would have hit for average and power here. In a park tailored to his swing, there’s no telling how many he would have hit. He was always ready for anything we threw him. We were all impressed.”





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