Sadaharu Oh Biography

Biography of Japan's Sadaharu Oh, baseballl player who hit more homers than Hank Aaron and played for the Tokyo Giants.

Few casual baseball fans know who holds the WORLD record for home runs or believe it's Hank Aaron. Aarons' 755 total is the AMERICAN record, but Japan's Sadaharu Oh actually hit more than 800.

Oh was born in 1940, making his way into the Tokyo Giants' organization at the age of 19. Struggling early in his career, this 5'11, 173-pound city native fell under the guidance of Hiroshi Arakawa in 1962. The Giants' hitting coach, Arakawa was also a swordsman of some repute. He taught Oh to hit using principles applied by swordsmen.

Oh was famous for the unique stance he used while hitting, one designed by Arakawa. It involved Oh raising his leg toward the plate but required tremendous practice and discipline to perfect.

Oh often spent more time practicing his swing than he did using it on the field. The results were unquestioned, however.

For 19 consecutive years, Oh belted 30 or more homers. While Aaron approached Babe Ruth's record of 714 homers, Oh was winning Triple Crowns for the Tokyo team. He hit for average as well, leading the Japanese Central league five times. 15 times, he was the home run king in Japan. In '64, Oh set a Japanese single season record for round-trippers with 55. Nine times he was voted the best player in Japan.

The dispute waged over what kind of success Oh would have had in the United States, but major leaguers who toured Japan for exhibition games in the '60s and '70s felt he would certainly have been a major star in the US, despite pitching that was likely much better here.

Oh ended his career with 868 homers in 22 seasons. Unlike Aaron, he became a big league manager, taking over his former team, the Giants when the 1980 season began. Oh turned 60 years old this year and continues to be one of Japan's most famous sports celebrities.

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