The Sadaharu Oh Story - Part II
Second in a three-part series
TOKYO — I watched Sadaharu Oh through much of his career with the Yomiuri Giants, living as I did in Tokyo, first as a student, then as an employee in a Japanese company and after that as a journalist.
During that time it was impossible to miss what was going on with him and his team. You could get in a cab after work and the Giants game would be blasting away on the radio. Walk into any restaurant and bar in the city and there would be a TV set off in the corner tuned in to the game. Headlines in the sports dailies at the train station kiosks the next morning were all about the Kyojin.
And it was like that all over the country. Cynics have compared the wall-to-wall coverage to brainwashing and it was not far from the truth.
In my case, I went out to Korakuen Stadium whenever possible to see the Giants play in person. I would pay a couple of hundred yen to sit high up in the jumbo stands on the third-base side.
With the nighttime neons of Tokyo as a backdrop, I would quaff Kirin beer and watch him do his stuff. I saw Oh play several times in 1964 when he hit his 55 home runs to set a new single-season record.