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NPB news: Sept. 14, 2022

Japan was able to take a breather Wednesday after Tuesday’s Murakami-mania, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few comments by Japan’s all-time home run king, Sadaharu Oh.

There were just four games, none involving Yakult or Japan’s new home run god, but Roki Sasaki pitched for the first time in two weeks, and I’ve got a little present for his fans, the Seibu Lions and SoftBank Hawks continued their struggle for Pacific League supremacy, while two of the three teams now fighting over the Central League’s final playoff spot, the Hanshin Tigers and Hiroshima Carp slugged it out.

Oh amazed by Murakami

Sadaharu Oh finished with 868 career home runs and who produced far more than his share of the very best seasons in Japanese pro baseball history, turned pro out of high school, where he’d been a slugging side-armed pitcher, got off to a slow start and feared being run out of pro baseball before he refined a style that eliminated a hitch in his swing.

“This is just his fifth season,” said Oh of Munetaka Murakami. “I think it’s simply amazing that a fifth-year pro can hit the ball that hard.”

Oh himself made his home run breakthrough when he hit 38 as a 22-year-old in 1962, his fourth pro season. In 1963, he hit 40, the same year Katsuya Nomura hit 52 in the PL for the Hawks. Oh then set his record of 55 in 1964.

“It’s a matter of hitting the ball when you are able to do so,” Oh said. “I suspect Murakami thinks that way, too. Everybody thinks (his hitting this many) is just amazing, but that in itself is not really so special. He’s been doing this all year, so it’s no wonder to him. And because it’s not a mystery, I suspect he can just keep on hitting one after another. If you’re worked up or overawed, you can’t do it.”

Continue reading NPB news: Sept. 14, 2022

NPB news: Sept. 9, 2022

It was Central League Friday, and Munetaka Murakami kicked it off with a home run, his 53rd and afterward paid tribute to the late Hall of Famer Katsuya Nomura, who encouraged him in his first spring training, and who for one year held the Japan single-season record with 52.

This weekend’s big CL series is between the second-place DeNA BayStars and the third-place Hanshin Tigers. The Yomiuri Giants and Hiroshima Carp went into the weekend breathing down the Tigers’ backs.

The Giants hosted the Dragons, with Shosei Togo going against Chunichi ace Yudai Ono, with the Carp visiting the Swallows, where their ace, Daichi Osera went against Yakult rookie Reiji Kozawa.

Murakami pays his respects

Munetaka Murakami’s 53rd home run on Friday moved him past the career season highs of Hall of Famers Katsuya Nomura and Hiromitsu Ochiai, and afterward the 22-year-old remembered Nomura. The former Swallows skipper spoke to Murakami as an 18-year-old at Yakult’s minor league spring training camp.

“We didn’t speak long but we did have a chance to talk. He told me, ‘At the very least, break my record,’” Murakami said.

“At the time, I didn’t think this day would come. Now that it has happened, I would like to report to him that I have surpassed his record.”

BayStars 9, Tigers 2: At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA came back from a 2-0 first-inning deficit after Taiga Kamichatani (3-6) walked the first two Tigers hitters and both scored. Shintaro Fujinami (2-4) retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced, before things began to go awry.

Continue reading NPB news: Sept. 9, 2022