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Sadaharu Oh and Cooperstown

Discussion in the Pro Yakyu History forum
Sadaharu Oh and Cooperstown
I believe that Sadaharu Oh holds Taiwanese citizenship. Does this fact mean that he could have left Japan to play in the major-leagues in North America, or was he subject to the same restrictive rules that governed all Japanese players?

I've read Craig Tomarkin's article at and am tentatively in favor of Oh's induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I would like to know what were the reasons Oh never made (or at least attempted to make) the move to the majors? Was it solely down to the Japanese league or did MLB have a part to play?
Re: Sadaharu Oh and Cooperstown
[ Author: Guest: Jim Albright | Posted: Dec 4, 2003 12:00 PM ]

Oh has been quoted as saying he didn't have the opportunity. I believe him, given that there was no free agency in Japan until the 1990's. Their system apparently is at least as restrictive as it was in the Majors before the arbitration decision establishing free agency.

Further, after 1965, the Majors took a complete hands-off approach to Japanese players until Nomo, and even then didn't get involved until the Japanese legal system had ruled him a free agent. There are some documented attempts by MLB to get Nagashima and Sawamura, at the very least, but they were unsuccessful. Also, there were significant uproars in Japan over Murakami's possibly staying in MLB in the 1960's, and the Nomo case was a real brouhaha. Suffice it to say, there was significant pressure on those players to stay in Japan.

Jim Albright
Re: Sadaharu Oh and Cooperstown
[ Author: Guest: Stu | Posted: Dec 5, 2003 2:22 AM ]

Thanks for the reply Jim. I have recently been involved in a debate upon the issue of Oh and the Hall of Fame. Many people protested that Oh was not worthy for consideration as he never made an attempt to play in MLB. I got quite frustrated when people asserted that there was nothing (apart from Japan's own rules) that prevented him. I had argued that Japanese baseball's rules aside, Oh would still have found difficulty in making the transition due to political reasons and U.S. prejudice.

Back to the issue of Oh and Cooperstwon, it seems that the rules for induction into the Hall of Fame contradict the mission of the institution. The rules would state that only players who have competed in MLB for 10-years can be inducted, but the mission would have us believe that the Hall is there to honor and recognize the "games' greatest players," not MLB's greatest. I have written quite a significant letter asking for clarification on this point.

I have also e-mailed the Hall regarding the chances of Oh being inducted and got the response that the Board of Directors are happy with the rules "at this time." I wonder if Oh's chances might improve if Ichiro retires before completing the necessary ten years. There would surely be an outcry that the 10-year rule is prejudiced against Japanese players. Many American fans would argue that Ichiro is deserving of consideration and cite his previous performance in Japan as a reason. This could then set the precedent that Cooperstwon should consider players' performance in Japanese baseball, thus opening the door for Oh.

Maybe I'm clutching at straws here, but I think Oh's chances are getting better by the year as more Japanese players succeed in North America. The current trend is starting to show U.S. fans that the Nippon league is deserving of respect, respect that has been absent for so long.
Re: Sadaharu Oh and Cooperstown
[ Author: Guest: Jim Albright | Posted: Dec 6, 2003 1:09 AM ]

I tend to agree, though the new rules for the Veteran's Committee don't bode well. Craig did his presentation as an argument based off of my studies. (He wanted it as an argument, I wanted a study as to Oh's worthiness -- we compromised that I would do mine my way, and he could do his presentation. We gave each other a good deal of feedback along the way.) If you look at what I've written in these forums (the first two pages of results of this search will do) and the Oh "section" of articles on my page at, you can see all my conclusions together with all the study material I gave.

You might also search for the give and take here by me and others on the Murakami Affair on this site. I won't bother to repeat all the details since you can read them elsewhere. However, if you have questions or comments not covered elsewhere, I'll be happy to take them up here.

Jim Albright
Re: Sadaharu Oh and Cooperstown
[ Author: Guest: Jim Albright | Posted: Dec 13, 2003 9:37 PM ]

One thing I forgot to add: we may need a player (say H. Matsui) to produce at least 25-30 HR per season power in MLB soon, or getting people to accept that Oh had that kind of power will remain quite difficult. If we can get past that hurdle, getting them to see him as a legitimate 500 career HR guy in MLB terms would be much easier.

Jim Albright

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