On September 3, 1977, Yomiuri Giants’ Sadaharu Oh hit his 756th home run in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, surpassing Hank Aaron for the most professional home runs of all-time.
Facing a 3-2 pitch in the third inning against Yukalt Swallows pitcher Kojiro Suzuki, Sadaharu Oh blasted the ball over Tokyo’s Korakuan Stadium’s right field wall for the 756th home run of his professional career. The hit meant that the 37-year had bested the mark of 755 homers Hank Aaron set in 1976.
Oh’s dinger went a total of 328 feet. 25-year-old Miyoshi Furuya, who had bought tickets for five consecutive nights, braved a mob of fans to emerge with the home run ball.
A total of 55,000 saw the left-handed first baseman’s historic homer and chanted “banzai” to cheer their hero around the bases. Immediately following his achievement, games across the country paused to announce that the record had fallen. A videotaping of Aaron congratulating Oh played across televisions in Japan.
Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) is generally considered to be of lesser quality than Major League Baseball, which Aaron played in for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. However, Oh’s record was still an impressive tally nonetheless.
Oh had come up to bat 7,878 times in his career at the time he set the mark. Known for his “flamingo” leg kick where he reared back while holding his right leg up, Oh had previously a hit a NPB single-season record of 55 home runs in 1964.
I was relieved when I hit the home run. I knew it was a homer the instant I connected—it was a sinker.
Holder of the world record for the most professional home runs
Thanks in part to Oh’s efforts, the Giants beat the visiting Swallows 8-1 that night. Yomiuri would go on to win the Central League pennant in 1977, but ultimately lost the Japan Series to the Hankyu Braves (now Orix Buffaloes).
As part of his rewards for claiming the record, Oh garnered a $75,500 bonus from Yomiuri and $3,775 from the Central League. He also received a four-door sedan from a Japanese automaker.
Oh finished 1977 with 50 home runs and the Central League MVP title. He would play until 1980 and racked up a total of 868 home runs over the course of his 22-season career. His professional career total is still a world record as of 2019.
After hanging up his cleats, Oh managed the Giants from 1984 until 1988 and also the Japanese national team during the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.
I would have loved to have been there tonight to put the crown on top of his head, because he certainly is quite a gentleman and the people of Japan have a lot to be proud of. I want to wish [Oh] the best of luck in the world. I know he’s capable of hitting a lot more home runs.
Baseball legend with 755 career home runs
You can watch footage of Oh’s 756th homer below, as well as the entire preceding at-bat:
Several trading cards dedicated to the historic moment have been released. It’s pretty cools to see this historic moment memorialized in trading card form. Here’s a shot of one, originally grabbed from some Yahoo! Japan Auctions:
And then a second card of the moment Oh reached first base:
Even if I die, I will not drop the ball, never, never.
The fan who caught Oh’s 756th homer
- Sadaharu Oh of the Yomiuri Giants in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball hit his 756th home run on September 2, 1977, setting a world record for the most home runs in a professional career.
- Oh’s record passed Hank Aaron’s number of 755.
- Oh finished his career in 1980 with 868 homers, which is still a world record.
- Tampa Tribune, September 5, 1977 via Newspapers.com