Saturday, 21 April 2018

Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh

Today I met a former professional baseball player here in Japan. He played 16 seasons for various teams and is now a coach in one of the organisations in Japanese professional baseball. I don't think I have ever met a professional baseball player before although I might be wrong.

That got me thinking about some of the best players in the history of Japanese professional player and two names came to mind. No, not Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki. I thought of Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh. These guys are two of the legendary players in this part of the world.

Of the two, Nagashima was more popular. Why? Apparently he played in a carefree manner which was the antithesis of Japanese society where everyone knew their place and you should follow the rules and that old chestnut, the nail that sticks out should get hammered down.

Of the two, Oh was undoubtedly more talented. I have see videos of interviews of Major League Baseball players and they all mentioned Sadaharu Oh as one of the all time greats and very rarely do I hear the name Nagashima even though his career batting average is over .300 and he hit 444 home runs. Not a bad career even when looked at by this amateur baseball enthusiast.

Sadaharu Oh played for longer than Nagashima and he also batted over .300 and hit 868 home runs in  his career which I think is a record in any professional baseball league anywhere in the world.

I find it interesting that Nagashima was more popular than Oh.

Why was he more popular?

As I said before, he was carefree. He made some silly errors but that seemed to make him human in the eyes of the fans.

I read Sadaharu Oh's autobiography a few years ago and although it was an interesting read he did come across as a little robotic although in saying that we can not argue with his statistics. Also, unfortunately, Oh's Chinese background may have not have endeared him to some members of the public.

What is the point of this post today?

Well, sometimes you have to stand out and sometimes you have to make yourself look like a fool to get what you want or to catch attention. Nagashima was more popular because of making those mistakes.

Of course you have to practice and you have to be serious about your craft and you will get the results like Oh. Maybe not 868 home runs though. But sometimes you have to stand out. You have to do things that might leave you with egg on your face but when that kind of thing comes off, wow, people will remember it.

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