Craig Tomarkin / the japanese insider
THE CASE FOR SADAHARU OH AND THE HALL OF FAME
by Craig Tomarkin
The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown was originally established to honor white Americans who played Major League Baseball. It has chosen to change it rules to include the world's best players, rather than keep them ineligible due to race, birth country and MLB experience. It must continue to do so to fulfill its mission.
They should elect Sadaharu Oh for the following three primary reasons:
1) The Hall of Fame would not need to change its mission from National to International to elect him. We must acknowledge that in addition to Ohs great achievements on the field, he impacted our culture and made outstanding contributions to our National Pastime. He achieved international fame by breaking the world home run record, thus capturing 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. And, he directly impacted MLB. Steve Garvey said he learned a lot from Oh. He was not alone.
2) Oh was banned from MLB just as the Negro League players were and he deserves the same exceptions they were granted. Now that it is long after Oh retired, Japanese players are still partially banned from MLB, because they are required to wait nine years and in many cases ten years before they can leave Japan. Remember that the MLB ban on blacks was not formal. It ended when the Brooklyn Dodgers Branch Rickey bravely defied the will of the other fifteen owners and objections from white players.
3) Major League Baseball now has international reach, no longer just for white Americans (roughly 25% of all MLB players are born outside of the 50 U.S. states). And, due to Ichiros MLB success (for the sake of argument, let's assume he continues to bat .320+ for 7 more years in the MLB and retires after a lengthy 17 year professional career, including his 9 years in Japan), it has become apparent that eligibility rules must be revised, to include performances by foreign players in foreign leagues, regardless of any opinions about Sadaharu Oh.. Those rules state that 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. Must we make Oh wait until this inevitable rule change is in place for him to qualify for consideration?
Let's make the rule change now:
1) The recent Japanese migration reduces the quality of the Japanese leagues and hastens the need for the MLB to return some good will.
2) 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).
3) Politically, electing players from foreign countries to the HOF in Cooperstown demonstrates respect to players from leagues long disrespected in America.
4) Opportunity to enhance the prestige for current Hall of Famers by labeling them the Worlds Greatest rather than Americas Greatest.
See the slide show: The Case for Sadaharu Oh
It has stats, photos and sidebar info that is not included below...
The Case for Sadaharu Oh - at a glance
Policy and Politics whats keeping him out and why he should be let in
The Statistical Record - proving his greatness as a player
The Subjective Record - what MLB players thought of Oh
The Proofs - Oh was banned from MLB
HOF Evolution another rule change please :)
Baseballs Greatest Foreign Players the best thirty ever
Proposal where from here?
The Case for Sadaharu Oh
He sure hit me. He was a superb hitter. He hit consistently, and he hit with power. - Tom Seaver
Sadaharu Ohs 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 worlds 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.
Whats 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 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. Ohs 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 Ohs case, a list of the thirty greatest foreign players is provided in this report. To be sure, the future holds names too.
Sadaharu Oh Satisfies the Halls 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 Ohs 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]
Adherence to the Halls Charter and to the mandate of its Leadership, requires Oh be enshrined.
Through its mission, one of the National Hall of Fames 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 Ohs 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.
Reasons to reconsider Oh for the Hall of Fame now
1) Due to Ichiros MLB success, it has become apparent that eligibility rules must be revised, 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.
2) The recent Japanese migration reduces the quality of the Japanese leagues and hastens the need for the MLB to return some good will.
3) 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).
4) Politically, electing players from foreign countries to the HOF in Cooperstown demonstrates respect to players from leagues long disrespected in America.
5) Opportunity to enhance the prestige for current Hall of Famers by labeling them the Worlds Greatest rather than Americas Greatest.
The Statistical Record
Theres no question hed have been a great player in the United States, that he was a super talent. - Greg Luzinski
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, Ohs mark of .445 was likely first, too.
Here's a link to Oh's complete stats, including Japan Series and Vs MLB: http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/ohsactuals.htm
The Japan Series
He led his team to 14 Japan Series and won it 11 times, nine of them consecutively.
Mr. October look out! In Ohs whopping 77 Japan Series games, he belted 29 home runs. That is better than his regular season average. Clutch.
Stats versus MLB
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, Ohs 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.
MLB Projected Stats and the Five Most Similar MLB Players
Ohs regular season batting records were converted to MLB equivalents. This conversion has Oh at 527 career MLB equivalent home runs, placing him 11th all-time. Here are the complete equivalent numbers and details from Jim Albright's analysis: http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/analysisjalbright14.html
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, Ohs score is 57, which ranks him ahead of the average Hall of Famers score of 50 and well ahead of the average HOF first basemans score of 45.
Sadaharu Ohs 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 leagues best first baseman from 1962 to 1979. Now thats consistency!
Davey Johnson, the only man to have been a teammate of both Oh and Aaron, said, You couldnt find a better [fielding] first baseman. [Defords Sports Illustrated article, August 15, 1977]
The Subjective Record
What did MLB players of his time think of him? [Unless otherwise noted, these quotes come from an appendix in Ohs 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 whats more, hed hit .300. Hed 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 couldnt fool him off-speed.
Hal McRae: Oh had tremendous patience as a hitter . . . He had good power. I dont know how many he would have hit here . . . start with 20 (a year) . . . at least. He was a great all-star. Hed 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 hed hit 40 home runs a year.
Frank Howard: You can kiss my ass if he wouldnt 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: Im sure he would have hit in the 30s (of homers per year) and probably in the low 40s. . . . Thirty home runs a year add up to over 600 home runs, and hed 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, theres no telling how many he would have hit. . . . He was always ready for anything we threw him. We were all impressed.
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
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 Brooklyn Dodgers Branch Rickey bravely defied the will of the other fifteen owners and objections from white players.
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 didnt 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.
Why Havent We Had More Japanese Players in the Majors?
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 MVPs 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)
The Hall of Fame has a history of evolution, and a pattern of including the worlds best players, some of whom were ineligible at one time. It 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 Clementes to enter the HOF immediately after his tragic death, the five year rule was amended (1973) to allow consideration six months after a players death.
§ To keep Pete Rose out of the HOF, in 1991 an amendment was added to say that Any player on Baseballs 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.
The evolution of rules for HOF eligibility, shows a progression of including the worlds 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.
1977: Inducted first player born in a foreign country and did not play in MLB, Martin Dihigo.
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.
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.
Proof that the Hall of Fame is increasingly International and has a history of choosing to include the worlds 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 Kerrs 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.
The HOF will inevitably continue to make firsts in electing foreign born players under diverse circumstances and will have to continue to change its 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 below)
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 below)
Inevitable Future; HOF Inducts first player who was born in a foreign country and did not play in MLB or Negro Leagues , Sadaharu Oh.
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? Its 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.
Proof that the HOF will have to continue to change its 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 CFs 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 MLB or Negro Leagues.
Baseballs 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)
C: Katsuya Nomura-Japan
1B: Sadaharu Oh-Japan
1B: Tetsuharu Kawakami-Japan
1B: Hector Espinosa-Mexico
1B: Julian Castillo-Cuba
2B: Morimichi Takagi-Japan
3B: Shigeo Nagashima-Japan
3B: Canena Marquez-P.R.
SS: Yoshio Yoshida-Japan
SS: Perucho Cepeda-P.R.
SS: Silvio Garcia-Cuba
Francisco Pancho Coimbre-P.R.
Ramon Arano (1959-95)-Mexico
Alfredo Ortiz (1963-87)-Mexico
Sun Dong Yol-Korea
Kazuto Tsuruoka -Japan's all time winningest manager with Nankai for 24 seasons.
Future players, who are not yet eligible:
Koji Yamamoto, OF (Japan) - 536 homers (4th), .290 career avg. and .923 OPS; 10 Gold Gloves
Hisashi Yamada, P (Japan)- 284-166; 3 MVPs in a row.
Special International Contribution:
Lefty ODoul, OF and Manager - Credited with initiating pro baseball in Japan (1932). The first U.S. Major Leaguer to be elected by Japans HOF (2001). Played in the inaugural MLB all-star game in 1933. MLB lifetime batting average .349 in brief career.
Descriptions of some of the 30 best
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
Masaichi Kaneda, P - Japans 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 Ks
Sun Dong Yol, P - ERA ranged from 1.70 to 0.78 before he switched to relief and led all Koreans in saves. Five-time leader in Ks.
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.
In a nutshell
It is not necessary to change the Hall of Fames 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 Ichiros 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 worlds 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.
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. See Jim Albright's web page for more info about Sadaharu Oh and Japanese baseball in general.
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. See John B. Holway's web page.
Gary Garland - the Japanese baseball columnist for BaseballGuru.com, filled in important gaps in understanding current players and Japanese policy. See Gary Garland's Japanese baseball web page.
See the slide show: The Case for Sadaharu Oh
It has stats, photos and sidebar info that is not included below...
P.S. The legend grows as Sadaharu Oh led Japan to win the 2006 World Baseball Classic as manager!