In the spring of 1961, Walter O’Malley welcomes Sotaro Suzuki, highly-respected columnist and Japan Baseball Hall of Famer, and Tokyo Yomiuri Giants star Sadaharu Oh to Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida.

Courtesy of University of Southern California, on behalf of the USC Specialized Libraries and Archival Collections


Sadaharu Oh

Sadaharu Oh is the world’s home run champion in baseball, having hit 868 in his 22 seasons (1959-1980) with the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. The first baseman is widely revered and respected as one of Japan’s greatest and most well-known players. Oh was inducted into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. He made his first visit to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida to train with the Giants in 1961. It made a lasting impact on him, as he discovered some differences between the way the Dodgers played the game compared to game strategy in Japan. He also connected with young Peter O’Malley, who had recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and was responsible for the Giants’ schedule and all arrangements for the entire team’s visit from arrival to departure. Oh played on 11 Japan Series championship teams. Besides home runs, he established Japan professional baseball records for runs batted in (2,170), walks (2,390) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.080). In 1977, Oh received the first People’s Honour Award bestowed by the Prime Minister of Japan. On September 3, 1977, Peter sent a telegram to Oh congratulating him for surpassing Hank Aaron’s career home run record of 755 and said, “Keep going.”    

After his playing days, in 1981, Oh returned to Dodgertown as Giants manager to lead Yomiuri’s final visit. The legend has been the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks chairman after his managerial career. He and Peter continue their friendly visits in Japan and the United States and frequently correspond. On March 17, 1990, Oh (who had retired as Giants manager) and Peter attended a reception and Opening Day of the inaugural Chinese Professional Baseball League at Taipei Baseball Stadium in Taiwan. In 1990, Oh was co-founder of the World Children’s Baseball Fair to bring youth together in friendship and learn life lessons as well as baseball. Peter hosted all the participants at Dodger Stadium. On August 24, 1991, Oh was honorary coach for the East team at the 2nd Annual IBA World All-Star Game played at Dodger Stadium. In 2002, Oh was in Los Angeles and visited Peter’s office. He saw an artist’s proof of Hideo Nomo by Los Angeles silkscreen artist Hiro Yamagata. The framed piece was given to Peter by Nomo while enjoying dinner at Ginza Sushi-Ko in Beverly Hills, California. On January 21, 2009, Oh was the guest speaker addressing students of the Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara and Peter O’Malley Memorial Sports Management Class at Waseda University. At a January 21, 2012 luncheon and press conference for the 20th annual World Children’s Baseball Fair event held at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, Peter donned a happi coat alongside Oh, co-founder Hank Aaron and Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, the first Black manager. On the occasion of Peter O’Malley receiving the high honor “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon” on July 8, 2015, Oh videotaped his congratulatory greetings to Peter which was played at Dodger Stadium during the on-field ceremonies. Oh said, “Congratulations, Mr. O’Malley! You and I, and the Tokyo Giants had a strong relationship for a very long time. The O’Malley family taught us thoroughly and patiently like we are your family and your passion raised the level of Japanese baseball. Japanese baseball owes you greatly.”