The Case to Elect Sadaharu Oh to the Hall of Fame Submitted to The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY August, 2002
The Case for Sadaharu Oh Contents The Case for Sadaharu Oh- at a glance … 3 Policy and Politics– what’s keeping him out and why he should be let in … 5 The Statistical Record- proving his greatness as a player … 10 The Subjective Record - what MLB players thought of Oh … 17 The Proofs- Oh was banned from MLB… 19 HOF Evolution– another rule change please … 23 Baseball’s Greatest Foreign Players– the best thirty ever … 31 Proposal– where from here? … 34 Credits – ok, take your bows! … 35 Contact Info… 36
The Case for Sadaharu Oh The Case for Sadaharu Oh Back to Contents “He sure hit me. He was a superb hitter. He hit consistently, and he hit with power.” - Tom Seaver
Oh developed the Flamingo Scarecrow batting stance in 1962, with the help of his batting coach, Hiroshi Arakawa (the man who discovered him as a Jr. High sandlot baseball player seven years earlier). The Case for Sadaharu Oh at a Glance Sadaharu Oh Sadaharu Oh’s overwhelming qualifications... • Here is all you need to know about Sadaharu “Wan-Chan” Oh, to make an informed decision about his qualifications: • He is the world’s all-time home run king with 868, achieving international fame as a result. • He won 9 MVP Awards, • 18 Best Nine awards as the leagues best first baseman, • two consecutive Triple Crowns in 1973 and 1974, • the first 9 Gold Gloves awarded in the last nine years of his career, and • was a 20 time All-Star. • He led his team to 14 Japan Series and won it 11 times, nine of them consecutively.
Policy and Politics Policy and Politics Back to Contents If Sadaharu Oh’s accomplishments on the field did not get him elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, what’s keeping him out and why he should be let in.
Policy and Politics What’s keeping him out and why he should be let in… • Since Oh never played in the MLB or the Negro Leagues he is ineligible. • A ban on Japanese players (see exhibits A & B) prevented Oh from playing in the MLB. • There are many players, who were ineligible, and are now in the Hall of Fame. • Since the Japanese leagues were dismissed as inferior, the statistics accumulated by its players were deemed suspect. • The Japanese statistical record has not been readily available to English audiences, hindering wide spread awareness of Japanese players’ exploits. Those records are included in this report. • Sabrmetric methods of converting stats from foreign leagues into relative MLB equivalents has only been recognized within the past 15 years or so. Oh’s converted MLB equivalents and are presented in this report and show him to be HOF caliber. • Recent successes by Japanese players in the MLB have bolstered opinions. Hideo Nomo won the NL Rookie of the Year and MLB all-star in 1995. Kazu Sasaki, followed up as AL Rookie of the Year in 2000. Then, Ichiro Suzuki won the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP in 2001. • Since there may not be enough other foreign players qualified for the HOF, it was not deemed worthwhile to expand the Hall to an international scope. • Oh qualifies under the national scope, so this objection is moot. But, had he not qualified, make an exception for him. It would be unfair to Oh, not to consider him for HOF standing, because he towers above the other Japanese all-stars. • Though it should be irrelevant to Sadaharu Oh’s case, a list of the thirty greatest foreign players is provided in this report. To be sure, the future holds names too.
Policy and Politics Sadaharu Oh Satisfies the Hall’s Stated “National” Mission… “The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is a not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of the game and its impact on our culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience, as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to our National Pastime.” [www.baseballhalloffame.org] Acknowledge that in addition to Oh’s great achievements on the field, he impacted our culture and made outstanding contributions to our National Pastime… • His international fame captured the imagination of players, adult fans and aspiring boys in America. • He Inspired a generation of Japanese youth, resulting in players like Nomo and Ichiro, who impact the MLB and our culture. • 1977, NY Daily News - “As the undisputed home run king of baseball crazy Japan, Oh swings the fastest, meanest bat in the East. [He] …is a genuine national hero and the living idol to every Japanese boy old enough to say “Yomiuri Giants," the name of his team." • He directly impacted MLB. Players, such as Steve Garvey (10-time all star and 1974 MVP), learned from Oh through exposure in his 110 exhibition games against Major Leaguers. • "Power is important to me. I need drive; I need torque. I learned a lot about torque from Sadaharu Oh. I spent some time with him during spring training in 1971, and again in '75 and '79. He always talked about the use of his legs as the single biggest asset to his power... “ [Garvey]
Policy and Politics Adherence to the Hall’s Charter and to the mandate of its Leadership, requires Oh be enshrined… • Through its mission, one of the National Hall of Fame’s stated commitments is: “Honoring, by enshrinement, those individuals who had exceptional careers…” • The Hall of Fame already displays a Japanese exhibit and includes Oh in the “500 Home Run Room.” This signifies that the HOF acknowledges the fact that Oh represents a significant part of baseball's history. • Recall that for a while, Roy Campanella, who admitted Josh Gibson was better than him, was in the main room, while the non-MLB Negro Leaguers were relegated to an exhibit in a separate room. • Through its leadership, Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of the HOF said, "The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has the unique responsibility of preserving baseball's rich history and honoring its greatest heroes.“ [from Forward of "Baseball As America“] • Therefore, considering Oh’s accomplishments on the field, and with regard to his impact on American culture and our national pastime, it is not enough to rely on the Japanese Hall of Fame to honor him.
Policy and Politics Reasons to reconsider Oh for the Hall of Fame now… • Due to Ichiro’s MLB success, it has become apparent that eligibility rules must be revised (see exhibit F), regardless of opinions about Oh: • Candidates need to play in the MLB for at least 10 years to get elected under the current rules. Since Japanese players must remain in Japan for at least 9 or 10 years before they can play in the MLB, it is not reasonable to assume that such a player will last long enough to qualify for the HOF. Therefore, the eligibility rules need to be revised, regardless of the case for Sadaharu Oh. • The recent Japanese migration reduces the quality of the Japanese leagues and hastens the need for the MLB to return some good will. • Electing foreign players to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown will boost international interest in American baseball. • Sadaharu Oh is a safe first choice. • The beneficial side-effect is that it leads to more new players in the future (fans often play the games they enjoy). • Politically, electing players from foreign countries to the HOF in Cooperstown demonstrates respect to players from leagues long disrespected in America. • Opportunity to enhance the prestige for current Hall of Famers by labeling them the “World’s Greatest” rather than “America’s Greatest.”
Oh’s Statistical Record The Statistical Record Back to Contents “There’s no question he’d have been a great player in the United States, that he was a super talent.” - Greg Luzinski
Oh’s Regular Season Batting Record Regular Season Stats in Japan Batting statistics… • Best known as the all-time home run king with 868 in his career. This mark was 211 ahead of the next best Japanese total. • He was also first ever in runs (by 311), RBI (by 182), total bases (by a whopping 547), SLG (by .043), and walks (by 915). • Ranking of career on base percentages in Japan was not available at the time of this review. But, Oh’s mark of .445 was likely first, too. * BOLD FACE indicates he led the league during that season.
Oh’s Japan Series Batting Record Japan Series Stats Key Findings: • Led his team to 14 Japan Series and won it 11 times, nine of them consecutively. • Mr. October look out! In Oh’s whopping 77 Japan Series games, he belted 29 home runs. That is better than his regular season average. Clutch.
Oh’s Batting Record Versus MLB Stats Versus MLB • MLB Pitchers Oh Homered Off: • Hank Aguirre, 1962* • Nick Willhite, 1966* (2) • Alan Foster, 1966 • Jim Brewer, 1966 • Joe Moeller, 1966 • Steve Carlton, 1968* - HOF • Dick Hughes, 1968 • Nelson Briles, 1968 • Ray Washburn, 1968 • Larry Jaster, 1968* • Wayne Granger, 1968 • Frank Reberger, 1970 • Frank Linzy, 1970 • Pat Dobson, 1971 • Jim Palmer, 1971 - HOF • Dick Hall, 1971 • Jerry Cram, 1974 (2) • Jerry Koosman, 1974* • John Matlack, 1974 (3)* • Tom Seaver, 1978 - HOF • TomHume, 1978 • * Indicates lefty Key Findings: • The MLB teams Oh faced in these exhibition games had a combined .575 winning record. Weighted to 162 games, Oh typically faced a team that was 92-70. • The games were played in Japan either after the regular season (October or November) or during spring training. • Even against this strong representation of MLB teams, Oh’s HR% was .074. Using his career 9,250 at bats in Japan as a benchmark, he would have his 684 homers as a MLB player. • Note that larger MLB parks would reduce the HR total, but play against average MLB teams offsets it somewhat.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT?! • Mel Ott and Sadaharu Oh were both left-handed sluggers, with unusual high leg kick batting styles. Neither was tall, but Oh had an inch on him at 5 feet 9 inches and both weighed 170 pounds. • Of all MLB batters ever, Mel Ott’s statistics are the closest match to Oh’s MLB projections. Oh’s Projected MLB Batting Record MLB Projected Stats with the Five Most Similar MLB Players Key Findings: • Oh’s regular season batting records were converted to MLB equivalents above. (details and the complete yearly projections will follow). • Applying Bill James’ similarity scores to these projected MLB stats and against all players with at least 300 career home runs in the MLB, Oh was revealed to be “somewhat similar” to Eddie Murray. • Compared to Murray, Oh had more home run power and a lower batting average. Oh was the better fielder as judged by his Gold Gloves. • Oh was “vaguely similar” to Mel Ott, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson and Dave Winfield. All of whom, are in the Hall of Fame. • Applying Bill James’ Hall of Fame Standards method, Oh’s score is 57, which ranks him ahead of the average Hall of Famer’s score of 50 and well ahead of the average HOF first baseman’s score of 45.
The conversion factors :Runs=0.884; Hits=0.904; 2B=0.829; 3B=2.149; HR=0.524; RBI=0.778; SO=1.017; BB=1.148 (1.000 was used subjectively because Oh already has an MLB equivalent record number of walks, and further adjustment would exaggerate the record). Oh’s Projected MLB Batting Record MLB Projected Stats Note: Ranks are through the end of 2001. The RBI rank is a tie for 9th with Willie Mays About the projections: • Oh’s first three seasons were dropped, because he would not have been old enough to be a credible U.S. MLB player until 1962, when he was 22 years of age. • A Japanese season is typically 130 games, so season totals were factored up to 162 games to reflect MLB seasons. Notice that he rarely missed a game. • Season totals were then factored down, to account for the weaker quality of opposition and smaller ballparks were derived from players who played in both the MLB and the CL during Oh’s time.
Oh’s Fielding Record Sadaharu Oh’s fielding qualifications… • The Japanese Gold Glove award was introduced in 1972. Oh won it the first 9 times from 1972 to 1980, the year he retired. Presumably, he would have won it in the years before 1972 had the award existed. • Oh won 18 consecutive Best Nine awards as the league’s best first baseman from 1962 to 1979. Now that’s consistency! • Davey Johnson, the only man to have been a teammate of both Oh and Aaron, said, “You couldn’t find a better [fielding] first baseman.”[Deford’s Sports Illustrated article, August 15, 1977]
Oh’s Subjective Record The Subjective Record Back to Contents What MLB Players thought of Oh.
Oh’s Subjective Record What did MLB players of his time think of him? [Unless otherwise noted, these quotes come from an appendix in Oh’s autobiography.] • Tom Seaver: “He sure hit me. He was a superb hitter. He hit consistently, and he hit with power. If he played in the United States, he would have hit 20-25 home runs a year, and what’s more, he’d hit .300. He’d be a lifetime .300 hitter. He had tremendous discipline at the plate. He knew the strike zone extremely well…He could pull your hard stuff, and you couldn’t fool him off-speed.” • Hal McRae: “Oh had tremendous patience as a hitter . . . He had good power. I don’t know how many he would have hit here . . . start with 20 (a year) . . . at least. He was a great all-star. He’d have been a Hall of Famer.” • Don Baylor: “Oh could have played anywhere at any time. If he played in Yankee Stadium, being the left handed pull hitter he is, I have no doubt he’d hit 40 home runs a year.” • Frank Howard: “You can kiss my ass if he wouldn’t have hit 30 or 35 home runs a year and hit anywhere from .280 to .320 and drive in up to 120 runs a year. The point being, he rates with the all-time stars of the game.” • Frank Robinson: “I’m sure he would have hit in the 30’s (of homers per year) and probably in the low 40’s. . . . Thirty home runs a year add up to over 600 home runs, and he’d do that if he played the same number of years here that he played there.” • Don Drysdale: “He would have hit for average and power here. In a park tailored to his swing, there’s no telling how many he would have hit. . . . He was always ready for anything we threw him. We were all impressed.”
The Proofs The Proofs Back to Contents The following evidence demonstrates: 1) Oh was banned from MLB 2) Long after Oh retired, Japanese players are still partially banned from MLB 3) American baseball has become an international game
Mashi donated some of his old Giants gear to the HOF in Cooperstown, commemorating his place in history. The Murakami Case - Exhibit A Mashi Murakami Proof that Japanese players were banned from MLB… • In 1964, a young pitcher named Masanori Murakami, was sent to the U.S., to get seasoning in the SF farm system. The SF Giants brought him up at the end of the year and he pitched 9 games with a 1.80 era. This made him the first Japanese player to ever play in the MLB. • So, the SF Giants decided to sign him for the following season. But Japanese baseball officials objected, creating an impasse. With pressure from the U.S. state department, the SF Giants agreed give up their rights to him after the 1965 season. • He did well for the SF Giants in 1965, pitching in 45 games and compiling a 4-1 record with eight saves and a 3.75 era. • At the end of the season he chose to return to Japan. • The de facto Japanese ban resumed as a result of this tense incident. No Japanese player played in the MLB for the next 30 years. • Note that the MLB ban on blacks was ”de facto” too, not formal. It ended when the L.A. Dodgers’ Branch Rickey bravely defied the will of the other fifteen owners and objections from white players.
May one day be seen as a Jackie Robinson-like figure for breaking the Japanese ban in 1995. • NL Rookie of the Year and MLB all-star in 1995. • Threw two career no hitters. • Fastest MLB pitcher to reach 500 career K’s. The Nomo Case - Exhibit B Hideo Nomo Proof that long after Oh retired, Japanese players are still partially banned from MLB… • From WWII forward, no Japan players came to the U.S. • Murakami broke the silence in 1964. When he returned to Japan in 1965, many believed that he would be the first and only Japanese player to play in the MLB. • But, in 1995, Hideo Nomo broke the Japanese ban by retiring and then coming out of his retirement to play in the MLB for the Dodgers. • Why didn’t Japan demand his return like they did with Murakami? • There were no contractual limitations limiting him anymore. • Nomo was not well liked by the Japanese owners before coming to America, because he tried to organize a one day strike to protest the treatment of Japanese players. • His 1995 success made him Japan's conquering hero. • To protect themselves against further migration, the NPB instituted a rule requiring players drafted in Japan to remain in Japan for up to ten years before they can leave to play elsewhere. • Gyaku Shimei -The Japanese draft allows players to designate before the draft, which team he will sign with. Under this scenario, he can leave Japan after ten years. • When a player is drafted without specifying a team he becomes eligible after nine years.
The Modern Game Proof that American baseball has become an international game… • In 2002, about half of all minor leaguers were from outside of the 50 U.S. states. This has driven the MLB ratio of foreign born players up every year. • In 2002, nearly 25% of MLB players were born outside of the 50 U.S. states, representing 17 countries. • Players born outside of the 50 U.S. States make an big impact on the quality of MLB. 128 of them were MLB All-Stars through 2001, winning six MVP’s and three Cy Young Awards just in the last six years: • 2001 - Ichiro Suzuki, AL (Japan) • 1999 - Ivan Rodriguez, AL (P.R.) • 1998 - Juan Gonzalez, AL (P.R.) and Sammy Sosa, NL (D.R.) • 1997 - Larry Walker, NL (Canada) • 1996– Juan Gonzalez, AL (P.R.) • Cy Young Award: 1997, 1999 and 2000 – Pedro Martinez, AL (D.R.) • Nine members of the Hall of Fame were born outside of the U.S. 50 states: • England – Pioneer, Harry Wright and Umpire, Tom Connolley; Dominican Republic - Juan Marichal; Puerto Rico - Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda; Panama - Rod Carew; Venezuela - Luis Aparicio; Canada - Fergie Jenkins; Cuba -Tony Perez and Martin Dihigo (who played mostly in foreign leagues, never MLB)
HOF Evolution HOF Evolution Back to Contents The Hall of Fame has a history of evolution, And a pattern of including the world’s best players, Some of whom were ineligible at one time.
HOF Evolution The HOF has been willing to change, bend and rewrite its rules in the past to best serve its mission… • The original rule (1936) was that a candidate must have played at least ten seasons in the majors and been retired for at least five years but no more than twenty years to qualify. • To allow consideration for managers, umpires, executives, and players not eligible through the BBWAA, such as, pre-1920 players and Negro Leaguers, some of whom never played in the MLB, modifications were made. • Because CASEY “The Old Professor” STENGEL was ill, a special exception was made to allow him early election (1966) without having to wait the normal five years. He lived until 1975. • To allow Roberto Clemente’s to enter the HOF immediately after his tragic death, the five year rule was amended (1973) to allow consideration six months after a player’s death. • To keep “Pete Rose” out of the HOF, in 1991 an amendment was added to say that “Any player on Baseball’s ineligible list shall not be an eligible candidate.” • To allow some players in the HOF, the twenty year rule has at times been ignored. • To allow consideration for Sadaharu Oh, an amendment should be made adding the words, “or any national major league” to the bit about the ten MLB or Negro League seasons requirement. • Otherwise, make a special exception.
HOF Evolution The evolution of rules for HOF eligibility, shows a progression of including the world’s best players rather than keeping them “Ineligible.” • 1936: Included first members, all were players and all were Caucasian (Ruth, Wagner, Cobb, Johnson and Mathewson), by means of a pole of 226 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). • 1937: Inducted first non-players; Connie Mack and “Little John” McGraw as managers and Ban Johnson and Morgan Bulkeley as pioneers/executives, by means of newly established 78 member Veterans’ Committee. • 1939: Inducted first player passed up by the baseball writers by means of the old timers committee (a.k.a., V.C.), Cap Anson. • 1971: Inducted first African American, Satchel Paige, by means of newly established Negro League Committee. • 1973: Inducted first player born in a foreign country, Roberto Clemente. • 1973: Inducted first players to not play in MLB, Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson (see exhibit C). • 1977: Inducted first player born in a foreign country and did not play in MLB, Martin Dihigo (see exhibit D).
HOF Evolution - Exhibit C Foreign League Hall of Famers Details on 18 Hall of Famers, who were once ineligible and played in foreign leagues… • The HOF has elected players, who played in foreign leagues. • As of 2002, there were 17 players, who made it based on careers outside of the MLB. • The HOF elected a player (Martin Dihigo), who was born in Cuba and played primarily in foreign leagues (see exhibit D). Eligibility limits will continue to be tested… Japanese players are required to play 19+ years in pro ball, rather than 10+, due to a partial Japanese ban. Ichiro, will test these limits (see exhibit F).
He reportedly threw the first no-hitter in Mexican League history. He also threw no-hitters in Venezuela and Puerto Rico. The Dihigo Case- Exhibit D Martín Dihigo Proof that the Hall of Fame is increasingly “International” and has a history of choosing to include the world’s best players rather than keeping them “Ineligible”… • Dihigo was the first player, who was born in a foreign country and did not play in MLB, to be elected to the National Hall of Fame • The HOF reversed an earlier decision by President Paul Kerr (1976), that Dihigo was ineligible despite, in Kerr’s words, “… a very impressive record.” A year later (1977), the HOF rethought the case and chose the path of inclusion for this foreign player. Why not choose the path of inclusion for Oh? • Martin Dihigo was a likely the greatest Cuban player ever, proving himself primarily in foreign leagues. Though he played in the Negro Leagues, he never played on the American side in games against other countries • While his political beliefs are his own business, he was a Communist by his own admission. This was evidenced political comments he made supporting rebel leader, Fidel Castro during radio broadcasts in the 1950's. • This demonstrates that the HOF has already admitted a foreigner with politically anti-American sentiment. As a result, it should lower resistance to admitting other foreigners, who are stars in their respective national “major” leagues.
HOF Evolution Who Gets In? History of Change, continued… The HOF will inevitably continue to make “firsts” in electing foreign born players under diverse circumstances and will have to continue to change it’s eligibility requirements to fulfill its mission… • Inevitable Future; HOF Inducts first foreigner elected to the HOF without ever playing on an American team (see Vladimir Guerrero Case – Exhibit E) • Inevitable Future; HOF Inducts first player elected to the HOF without playing for 10 years in the U.S. Major Leagues or Negro Leagues. (see Ichiro Case – Exhibit F) • Inevitable Future; HOF Inducts first player who was born in a foreign country and did not play in MLB or Negro Leagues , Sadaharu Oh.
Member of the .300-30-100 club four seasons in a row, from 1998-2001. How many years will the string continue? The Guerrero Case - Exhibit E Proof that the HOF will inevitably continue to make “firsts” in electing foreign born players under diverse circumstances… • Vladimir Guerrero was born in Nizao Bani, Dominican Republic. He is one of the growing minority of foreign born U.S. Major Leaguers. • He joined the Majors in 1996. Through 2002, the only MLB team he ever played for the was the Montreal Expos. • If he remains in Montreal for his entire career, which must last through the 2006 season, he will qualify for Hall of Fame consideration without ever having played for an American team. • This would make him the first foreigner elected to the HOF without ever playing on an American team. • How close is this to becoming a reality? It’s inevitable that it will happen for some player. If the Expos can afford him, they remain in Canada, and Vlad maintains his numbers, it will be him. Vladimir Guerrero
Joined the .350-50 SB Club in 2001. • Other Members (1901+): • T. Gwynn, 1987 • W. McGee, 1985 • G. Sisler, 1922 • Cobb, 1909-13, 1915-17 • B. Kauff, 1914 • T. Speaker, 1912 • H. Wagner, 1905, 1908 The Ichiro Case - Exhibit F Proof that the HOF will have to continue to change it’s eligibility requirements to fulfill its mission… • Ichiro Suzuki was born in Kasugai, Japan. In 2001, he initiated the migration from the NPB to the MLB among non pitchers. • In his first U.S. Major League season, the perennial NPB batting champ did not disappoint Japanese or American audiences. • Won the AL Rookie of the Year Award • Won the AL Batting Crown, batting .350 • Most stolen bases in the AL with 56 • Won the Gold Glove Award for Right field, although he has a CF’s range. • He played 9 seasons in Japan due to the partial MLB ban. Must he play 10 more seasons in the MLB to qualify for the HOF? • Denial would be an outrage. It would also discourage future attempts by players to abandon their national major league in favor of the American one. • This would make him the first player elected to the HOF without playing for 10 years in the U.S. Major Leagues or Negro Leagues. Ichiro Suzuki Career Stats in Japan…
Baseball’s Greatest Foreign Players Baseball’s Greatest Foreign Players Back to Contents Not that this should be a requirement for Oh’s candidacy, but here are thirty foreign players for HOF consideration...
Baseball’s Greatest Foreign Players The thirty best; based on various sources, including McNeil's “Baseball's Other Stars,” using his All-World All Star Team. (Note: BOLD indicates first team) Infielders: C: Katsuya Nomura-Japan 1B: Sadaharu Oh-Japan Tetsuharu Kawakami-Japan Hector Espinosa-Mexico Julian Castillo-Cuba 2B: Morimichi Takagi-Japan 3B: Shigeo Nagashima-Japan Canena Marquez-P.R. SS: Yoshio Yoshida-Japan Perucho Cepeda-P.R. Silvio Garcia-Cuba Outfielders: Cristobal Torriente-CubaFrancisco “Pancho” Coimbre-P.R.Bernardo Baro-CubaYutaka Fukumoto-JapanTetelo Vargas-D.R.Alejandro Oms-CubaIsao Harimoto-Japan Managers: Kazuto Tsuruoka -Japan's all time winningest manager with Nankai for 24 seasons. • Pitchers: • Jose Mendez-CubaMasaichi Kaneda-JapanEusatquio Pedroso-CubaLuis Padron-CubaTetsuya Yoneda-JapanDiomedes Olivo-D.R.Ramon Arano (1959-95)-MexicoAlfredo Ortiz (1963-87)-Mexico • Kazuhisa Inao-Japan • Masaaki Koyama-Japan • Sun Dong Yol-Korea • Victor Starfin-Japan • Future players, who are not yet eligible: Koji Yamamoto, OF (Japan) - 536 homers (4th), .290 career avg.and .923 OPS; 10 Gold Gloves, and Hisashi Yamada, P (Japan)- 284-166; 3 MVPs in a row. • Special International Contribution:Lefty O’Doul, OF and Manager - Credited with initiating pro baseball in Japan (1932). The first U.S. Major Leaguer to be elected by Japan’s HOF (2001). Played in the inaugural MLB all-star game in 1933. MLB lifetime batting average .349 in brief career.
Baseball’s Greatest Foreign Players Descriptions of some of the 30 best… • Masaichi Kaneda, P - Japan’s greatest pitcher, 400 game winner (1st), 2.34 era, 3,388 Ks (1st); • Victor Starfin, P - 303 wins in Japan with 2.09 career era (5th) • Kazuhisa Inao, P – 1.98 era, .668 pct, 2,574 K’s • Sun Dong Yol, P - ERA ranged from 1.70 to 0.78 before he switched to relief and led all Korean’s in saves. Five-time leader in K’s. • Alejandro Oms, OF & RHP –.351 lifetime avg in Cuba and roughly .325 in Negro Leagues. Won three batting crowns in Cuba and once led in SBs. Top defensive Venezuelan OF in 1943. Played in championships for 4 different teams. • Jose Mendez, RHP, Infielder and playing Manager – In 1909, he was 44-2 for the Cuban Stars (some games were against semi pro teams). Led the Monarchs to 3 straight Negro National League pennants (1923-25) as a player manager. His was 20-4, with 7 saves over that span. John Henry Lloyd said he never saw a better pitcher. • Katsuya Nomura, C - 4 time MVP, 657 HRs (2nd in Japan behind Oh) • Sadaharu Oh, 1B - 9 time Japanese MVP • Tetsuharu "God of Hitting" Kawakami, 1B – Won 3 MVPs in Japan; .313 lifetime average (5th ) • Shigeo Nagashima, 3B - 5 time Japanese MVP • Isao Harimoto, OF – all time Japanese hits leader with 3,085 and .319 lifetime avg. (3rd); 504 HRs (6th) and 4th in career RBIs • Yutaka Fukumoto, CF - all time Japanese SB leader with 1,065 (safe 78.1%); hit 208 HRs; won 12 Gold Gloves • Cristóbal Torriente, CF and LHP –.352. Lifetime average in Cuba and roughly .334 in the Negro Leagues. Great fielding range and arm. Led in SBs 3 times and HRs 4 times. Batted .402 in 1916. • C.I. Taylor, longtime manager and Negro League executive, said, "If I should see Torriente walking up the other side of the street, I would say, `there walks a ball club.'" • Masaaki Koyama, P – 3rd in Wins; 320-232 record in Japan; 3rd in strikeouts with 3,061
Proposal In a nutshell… • It is not necessary to change the Hall of Fame’s Mission from “National” to “International” in order to accommodate players, who did not play in America, as long as those players impacted our culture and made outstanding contributions to our National Pastime, as Oh clearly did. • But, given the reality that American baseball has become an international game, changing the official scope from “National” to “International” is well advised. • Whether the mission remains “National” or changes to “International,” establish a Baseball Hall of Fame Committee on Foreign Baseball Leagues • Candidates are to have served at least 10 years in any national “major” league from any foreign country and/or the American Major Leagues. • At a minimum, this addresses Ichiro’s predicament of having to play at least nine years in Japan before he can prove himself in America. • At best, it allows for the consideration of the world’s greatest baseball players, many of whom were not free to play in America. • The first ballot should contain Sadaharu Oh. • In absence of this proposed new committee, make an exception for Oh.
Credits Special thanks and credit are due to the following people:… • Jim Albright - assembled nearly all of the numbers presented, which he collected from various sources. Jim was also responsible for all of the Sabrmetric calculations used. His calculations and logic were confirmed for accuracy and presented to scores of baseball researchers before presentation in this document. And, he inspired us all. • John B. Holway - a noted historian of the Japanese and Negro leagues, served as a guide, and was the primary source for the Dihigo case. • Gary Garland - the Japanese baseball columnist for BaseballGuru.com, filled in important gaps in understanding current players and Japanese policy. Back to Contents
Contact Information CONTACT INFORMATION Craig Tomarkin 2333 Congress Street Fairfield, CT 06430 203-259-0621 (Phone) 419-858-8545 (fax) Craig@BaseballGuru.com