Sadaharu Oh

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This is an Sino-Japanese name. The family name is (Oh/Wang).
Sadaharu Oh
WBC2006 Sadaharu Oh.jpg
Sadaharu Oh in the 2006 World Baseball Classic
First baseman
Born: (1940-05-20) May 20, 1940 (age 74)
Sumida, Tokyo, Japan
Batted: Left Threw: Left
Professional debut
NPB: April 11, 1959 for the Yomiuri Giants
Last professional appearance
October 12, 1980 for the Yomiuri Giants
NPB statistics
Batting average .301
Hits 2,786
Home runs 868
Runs batted in 2,170
Teams

As Player

As Manager

Career highlights and awards
Inducted 1994

Sadaharu Oh (Japanese王貞治, Ō Sadaharu; born May 20, 1940), also known as Wang Chen-chih (Chineset , s , p Wáng Zhēnzhì), is a retired Japanese–Taiwanese baseball player and manager[1] who holds the world lifetime home run record, having hit 868 home runs during his professional career.

Oh batted and threw left-handed and primarily played first base. Oh, who was born in Sumida, Tokyo the son of a Chinese father and a Japanese mother,[2] had originally signed with the powerhouse Yomiuri Giants in 1959 as a pitcher, but was soon converted to first base. Under the tutelage of coach Hiroshi Arakawa, Oh developed his distinctive "flamingo" leg kick. His batting average jumped from .161 in his rookie season to .270 in 1960, and his home runs more than doubled. His performance dipped slightly in both statistical categories in 1961, but Oh truly blossomed in 1962. He was a five-time batting champion and led all Japanese players in home runs fifteen times and won the Central League most valuable player award nine times. In 1977, Sadaharu Oh became the first recipient of the People's Honor award.

Oh played his entire 22-year professional career with the Yomiuri Giants and was their manager from 1984 to 1988. Oh holds the world career home run record with 868 home runs, and held Japan's single-season home run record with 55 until Wladimir Balentien broke the record in 2013. He also managed the Fukuoka Daiei/Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks from 1995 to 2008 and he was the manager of the Japanese national team in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. The Japanese team defeated the Cuban national team for the championship. He is currently the chairman of the Hawks.

Sadaharu Oh holds citizenship in the Republic of China (Taiwan). Oh is the father of three daughters. His second daughter, Rie Oh (born in 1970), is a sportscaster and presenter on the J-Wave radio network.

Playing career[edit]

Prep career[edit]

In high school, Oh made many appearances at Koshien Stadium and suffered several tough defeats. In 1957, Waseda Jitsugyo High School made it to the Spring Koshien Tournament with the second-year Oh as its ace pitcher. Right before the tournament started, Oh suffered serious blisters on two fingers of his pitching hand. The only way to heal the injury was with rest, but Oh refused to let his team down. Hiding his injury so as not to demoralize his team, Oh pitched the entire first game at Koshien and won. Oh's catcher noticed the bloodstained ball, but agreed to keep the injury secret from the rest of the team. The next day, Oh pitched another complete game and earned the victory, and again his catcher kept the injury a secret, but the blisters worsened. The pain and infection was unbearable, and now Oh faced the prospect of pitching two more games — on back-to-back days — for the championship. All the same, Oh pitched and won another complete game, enduring the pain. After the game, on the eve of the final, he had already lost all feeling in his fingertips, and was convinced he could not pitch in the final.

That night, Oh was paid a surprise visit by his father, who had noticed the injury while watching his son pitch on television. Oh's father had traveled 350 miles from Tokyo to bring him an herbal remedy. The miracle treatment worked, and Oh was able to just make it through his fourth complete game in four days, squeaking out a one-run victory. Oh had won the championship, proved his fighting spirit, and earned fame and the respect of the nation.

Professional career[edit]

In 1959, he signed his first professional contract as a pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants. However, Oh was not a strong enough pitcher to succeed professionally and soon switched to first base, working diligently with coach Hiroshi Arakawa to improve his hitting skills. This led the development of Oh's distinctive "flamingo" leg kick. It took the left-handed hitting Oh three years to blossom, but he would go on to dominate the baseball league in Japan.

Oh led his league in home runs fifteen times (and for thirteen consecutive seasons) and also drove in the most runs for thirteen seasons. More than just a power hitter, Oh was a five-time batting champion, and won the Japanese Central League's batting triple crown twice. With Sadaharu Oh at first base, the Yomiuri Giants won eleven championships, and Oh was named the Central League's Most Valuable Player nine times and to the All-Star team eighteen times.

Sadaharu Oh retired in 1980 at age 40, having amassed 2,786 hits (third after Isao Harimoto (Jang Hoon) and Katsuya Nomura), 2,170 RBIs, a lifetime batting average of .301, and 868 home runs.

His hitting exploits benefited from the fact that, for most of his career, he batted third in the Giants' lineup, with another very dangerous hitter, Shigeo Nagashima, batting fourth; the two players forming the feared "O-N Cannon". In his autobiography, Sadaharu Oh: A Zen Way Of Baseball (ISBN 978-0812911091), Oh said he and Nagashima were not close, rarely spending time together off the field. Oh was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.

Managing career[edit]

Oh was the assistant manager of the Yomiuri Giants between 1981 and 1983. He became the manager of the Yomiuri Giants between 1984 and 1988. He led the Giants to one Central League pennant in 1987.

In 1995, he returned to baseball as the manager of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks (later the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks). Oh led the Hawks to three Pacific League pennants in 1999, 2000 and 2003, and two Japan Series titles in 1999 and 2003.

In 2006, Oh managed the Japan national baseball team, winning the championship in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic over Cuba. On July 5, he announced that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the Hawks to combat a stomach tumor.[3] On July 17, 2006, Oh underwent laparoscopic surgery to remove his stomach and its surrounding lymph nodes. The surgery was considered to be a success.[4] Although the tumor was confirmed to be cancerous, it was caught in early stages. He returned to coaching the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, although he announced he would retire at the end of the 2008 season as manager (but remain as Hawks' GM). He retired as a manager in 2008.

Home run record controversy[edit]

On three occasions, foreign-born players challenged Oh's single-season home run record of 55 and faced Oh-managed teams late in the season. On each occasion, Oh's pitchers refused to throw strikes to them.[5]

In 1985, American Randy Bass, playing for the Hanshin Tigers, came into the last game of the season against the Oh-managed Giants with 54 home runs. Bass was intentionally walked four times on four straight pitches each time. Bass reached over the plate on the fifth occasion and batted the ball into the outfield for a single. After the game, Oh denied ordering his pitchers to walk Bass, but Keith Comstock, an American pitcher for the Giants, later stated that an unnamed Giants coach had threatened a fine of $1,000 for every strike that any Giants pitcher threw to Bass. The magazine Takarajima investigated the incident and reported that the Giants front office had likely ordered the team not to allow Bass an opportunity to tie or break Oh's record. For the most part the Japanese media remained silent on the incident as did league commissioner Takeso Shimoda.[5]

In 2001, American Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes, playing for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, hit 55 home runs with several games left. The Buffaloes played the Oh-managed Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on a late weekend series in Fukuoka. Rhodes was intentionally walked during each at-bat. Hawks catcher Kenji Johjima could be seen grinning as he caught the intentional balls. Again, Oh denied any involvement and Hawks pitching coach Yoshiharu Wakana stated that the pitchers acted on his orders, saying, "I just didn't want a foreign player to break Oh's record." Rhodes completed the season with 55 home runs. Hawks pitcher Keizaburo Tanoue went on record saying that he wanted to throw strikes to Rhodes and felt bad about the situation.[5][6]

In 2002, Venezuelan Alex Cabrera hit 55 home runs with five games left in the season and his team played Oh's Hawks. Oh told his pitchers to throw strikes to Cabrera, but most of them ignored his order and threw balls well away from the plate. After the game, Oh stated, "If you're going to break the record, you should do it by more than one. Do it by a lot."[5] In the wake of the most recent incident involving Cabrera, ESPN listed Oh's single-season home run record as #2 on its list of "The Phoniest Records in Sports".[7]

Wladimir Balentien, a Curaçaoan born player, broke Oh's home run record on September 15, 2013, by hitting his 56th and 57th home runs of the season in a game against the Hanshin Tigers.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Oh was married to Kyoko Oh (王恭子 Ō Kyōko?), and had three daughters with her. Kyoko Oh died of stomach cancer in December 2001 at age 57, the same illness he would combat in 2006. In December 2002, her ashes were stolen from their family grave.[9]

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Oh became friends with Hank Aaron, his contemporary in Major League Baseball. The two squared off in a home run derby before an exhibition game at Korakuen Stadium on 2 November 1974, after Aaron eclipsed Babe Ruth's home run record.[citation needed] By that time, Oh was running away with the Japanese home run record, having become the first Japanese baseball player to hit 600 career home runs that year. Aaron won, 10-9.[10] In 1988, Oh and Aaron created the World Children's Baseball Fair (WCBF), to increase the popularity of baseball by working with youngsters.[11]
  • On December 4, 2007, Oh said in Chiyoda, Tokyo that it is just a matter of time before his record of 868 home runs will be broken. "I think the 868 record will be broken. There's nobody near that mark in Japan, but I think Alex Rodriguez can do it", he added. "He has the ability to hit 1,000."[12]
  • In 2002 and 2005, he was named by President Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan as Ambassador-at-Large of the Republic of China.
  • President Ma Ying-Jeou honored Sadaharu Oh with the "Order of Brilliant Star" on February 5, 2009, in Taipei. Oh called receiving the award, "The highest honor of his life." [13]
  • During the 2009 World Baseball Classic Oh attended many of the games played by Japan.
  • Is mentioned in the Beastie Boys song "Hey Ladies". "I got more hits than Sadaharu Oh".

Statistics[edit]

YEAR Team Number G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI SB CS SH SF BB IBB HBP K DP AVG OBP SLG OPS
1959 Yomiuri Giants 1 94 193 18 31 7 1 7 61 25 3 1 1 1 24 1 3 72 2 .161 .262 .316 .569
1960 130 426 49 115 19 3 17 191 71 5 4 3 1 67 5 5 101 7 .270 .375 .448 .823
1961 127 396 50 100 25 6 13 176 53 10 5 4 4 64 3 3 72 7 .253 .358 .444 .802
1962 134 497 79 135 28 2 38 281 85 6 4 3 2 72 9 12 99 6 .272 .376 .565 .941
1963 140 478 111 146 30 5 40 306 106 9 5 0 2 123 12 6 64 7 .305 .452 .640 1.092
1964 140 472 110 151 24 0 55 340 119 6 4 0 5 119 20 3 81 8 .320 .456 .720 1.176
1965 135 428 104 138 19 1 42 285 104 2 4 0 3 138 29 6 58 7 .322 .490 .666 1.156
1966 129 396 111 123 14 1 48 283 116 9 4 0 4 142 41 7 51 5 .311 .495 .715 1.210
1967 133 426 94 139 22 3 47 308 108 3 5 0 3 130 30 7 65 7 .326 .488 .723 1.211
1968 131 442 107 144 28 0 49 319 119 5 1 1 6 121 18 10 72 5 .326 .475 .722 1.197
1969 130 452 112 156 24 0 44 312 103 5 2 0 8 111 12 5 61 7 .345 .472 .690 1.162
1970 129 425 97 138 24 0 47 303 93 1 4 0 3 119 24 6 48 8 .325 .476 .713 1.189
1971 130 434 92 120 18 2 39 259 101 8 2 0 5 121 17 5 65 8 .276 .435 .597 1.032
1972 130 456 104 135 19 0 48 298 120 2 0 0 2 108 18 6 43 8 .296 .435 .654 1.089
1973 130 428 111 152 18 0 51 323 114 2 1 0 4 124 38 4 41 7 .355 .500 .755 1.255
1974 130 385 105 128 18 0 49 293 107 1 5 0 2 158 45 8 44 4 .332 .532 .761 1.293
1975 128 393 77 112 14 0 33 225 96 1 0 0 6 123 27 1 62 9 .285 .451 .573 1.024
1976 122 400 99 130 11 1 49 290 123 3 1 0 9 125 27 2 45 8 .325 .479 .725 1.204
1977 130 432 114 140 15 0 50 305 124 1 3 0 6 126 16 6 37 14 .324 .477 .706 1.183
1978 130 440 91 132 20 0 39 269 118 1 2 0 11 114 17 1 43 7 .300 .436 .611 1.048
1979 120 407 73 116 15 0 33 230 81 1 1 0 5 89 10 5 48 9 .285 .415 .565 .980
1980 129 476 59 105 10 0 30 205 84 0 1 0 8 72 8 3 47 9 .236 .342 .462 .803
Total 2831 9250 1967 2786 422 25 868 5862 2170 84 59 12 100 2390 427 114 1319 159 .301 .446 .634 1.080

References[edit]

External links[edit]