Posted by simon c on 2008 May 6日 Tuesday
The living legend and current Fukuoka Softbank Hawks manager Sadaharu Oh gets featured in two prominent American publications.
SI is doing the best baseball players per number, and they chose Oh over the Wizard of Oz for No.1.
Oh, baby, was he good. In 22 seasons as the Yomiuri Giants’ first baseman, Oh hit 868 home runs, 106 more than Barry Bonds. He led the Japan League in home runs 15 times.
Runner-up: Ozzie Smith
And the New York Times also has an interview piece with Oh where he instinctively calculates/makes sabermetrically correct translation of his power numbers had he played in the majors, interesting.
“It’s not that we haven’t shown our power yet, we simply don’t have it yet,” Oh said. “When I watch the home run derby at the M.L.B. All-Star Game, I can’t believe the way they launch the ball out of the park like a tee shot in golf. Japanese don’t have the power to do that. Diet has a lot to do with it, but that’s changing.”
Although Oh hit more home runs than Barry Bonds, the major league career leader with 762, Oh said he did not do so with power.
“I had strong legs that would have made me a good sumo wrestler and I used that to my advantage, but my home runs were achieved by technique,” Oh said. “I competed well with the Americans in those good-will-type exhibition games they used to bring here with M.L.B. all-stars, and I always thought if I had a chance to go to America, I could probably hit close to 30 home runs in a season. But again, it would have been with technique.”
As a player, Oh could compute his batting average as he sprinted toward first base. He still uses his skill with an imaginary abacus on the bench.
“It keeps the mind sharp,” he said.