It won’t be a record everywhere

Sometime in the near-future, Barry Bonds will take his famous left-handed swing and send a ball over the wall, a shot that will break baseball’s all-time home run record.

Or will it?

That’s the question being considered by the Japanese press following the Giants’ slugger in his pursuit of Hank Aaron’s 755 career homers, a legendary number in American sports since he retired in 1976. But the Japanese have their own revered home run king, Sadaharu Oh, whose iconic mark of 868 long balls almost dwarfs Aaron’s total.

“It’s a tough question because I think people in Japan think of the Japanese leagues and the major leagues as two different things,” said Kiyoshi Miyata, a sports reporter with Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. “So I think Oh will still have the record in the Japanese league and Barry Bonds will have the American record.”

Miyata is one of about 15 to 20 Japanese media members in The City following Bonds on the home run chase, according to Giants director of broadcasting and media services Maria Jacinto. Many refer to Oh respectfully as “Mr. Oh” and said his presence still looms large over the game in Japan. Oh played professionally for the Yomiuri Giants from 1959 to 1980, leading the league in home runs 15 times (including 13 straight) and in RBIs 13 seasons. He later went on to manage that club and currently manages the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.

“For me, it’s really tough because I’m a big fan of Mr. Oh,” said Kuzue Shirai of Fuji TV. “If [Bonds] keeps playing, who knows? I don’t know the percentage of what people in Japan think, but for me, they’re two different records.”

But like Bonds, some of Oh’s records have been shrouded by controversy. His single-season record of 55 homers has been threatened three times by former major-

leaguers playing in Japan and each time Oh allegedly ordered his pitchers to walk them late in the season.

Bonds, of course, is dealing with accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs, but according to Shirai he has not been condemned by public opinion.

“Some people have their doubts, I’m sure,” she said. “But like here, in Japan, you’re [innocent] until proven guilty.”

And while performance-enhancing drugs have become a huge topic of conversation surrounding Major League Baseball, Miyata said he didn’t think they had seeped their way into the Japanese game.

“In Japan, people are not used to the drug issue.” he said. “Any drug, not only performance-enhancing drugs, is strictly prohibited. So I personally don’t think any Japanese players are using drugs.”

Yuichi Usudu of the Yomiuri Shimbun said, all drama aside, the story of the homer that breaks Aaron’s mark is still being highly anticipated.

“I’m not sure how [how big a story it is now back in Japan], but once he hits 754 it will be,” Usudu said. “And when he breaks the record, it will be on the front page. Maybe not the biggest story, but on the front page.”

melliser@examiner.com


Which mark do you consider the top record?

Share your comments below.

Other Sportssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive at Biden's inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021, in Washington, DC.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)
Joe Biden issues call for ‘unity’ amidst extreme partisan rancor

‘I will be a president for all Americans,’ he says in inauguration speech

MARIETTA, GA - NOVEMBER 15: Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff (R) and Raphael Warnock (L) of Georgia taps elbows during a rally for supporters on November 15, 2020 in Marietta, Georgia. Both become senators Wednesday.  (Jenny Jarvie/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Vice President Harris swears in senators Padilla, Warnock, Ossoff

New Democratic senators tip balance of power in upper legislative house

President Joe Biden plans to sign a number of executive orders over the next week. (Biden Transition/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)
Biden signals new direction by signing mask order on his first day in office

President plans ambitious 10-day push of executive orders, legislation

Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
A new turn in history: Kamala Harris sworn in as 49th vice president

Noah Bierman and Melanie Mason Los Angeles Times Kamala Devi Harris, born… Continue reading

From left, Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)
Joe Biden inaugurated as 46th president as Trump era comes to an end

Todd Spangler Detroit Free Press Taking over the reins of government at… Continue reading

Most Read