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Messages to Their Second Century

Development of professionals who will spiritually enrich Japan

Mr. Sadaharu Oh Chairman and former Coach of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

Mr. Sadaharu Oh carved a brilliant history into the annals of baseball. Mr. Oh discussed the life philosophy he learned through baseball and encounters with various people, as well as his current thoughts.

--What kind of things have you constantly focused on during your baseball career up until now?

The reason that I was able to continue to perform as a professional baseball athlete for 22 years is that I always had the feeling to refine myself to an even higher level. Since I am not standing still in the same place, I want to proceed in even better form as I move forward. I felt that I must always be hungry for baseball itself, not for money or for fame. In my case, this hunger was particularly focused on batting. I wanted to hit 4 home runs in one game. Also, I didn't want my home runs to barely enter the stands. I wanted to hit home runs that were even more powerful and went ever further.

Having the goal of becoming stronger is only natural for a professional athlete. When considering the effect that professional athletes have on people, I think that an athlete's way of living is very important. Potential is something that you are given by your parents. The next step is refining this potential yourself. If you are given the potential of a professional athlete, you refine it, and then you attempt to perform you work in a way that makes people happy. It would be rigid to describe this as a duty, but I believe that this is the mission and the will of Heaven for professional athletes. If a professional athlete can naturally accept this fate, then even practice becomes enjoyable.

--It seems that you have also had deep exchange with people from a variety of different fields.

I have been blessed to meet many different people. This includes former teachers, teammates, rivals, and top-class people from a variety of fields. People without experience learn from people with experience. I think it is best to accept this fact as natural. If you can, it will definitely be a plus for you in the future. What is important is whether you realize it when you encounter someone who is special to you.

Through my encounters with many different people, I learned that life is like an iceberg. Even for people who are making great efforts, only a small portion of those efforts come to the surface. When the part of an iceberg which is not visible is small, that iceberg will turn over. A person can stand on their own two feet because the part of effort which is not seen is solid. This kind of person will not waver under any condition. I always take great care to remember this truth.

--What expectations do you have for Waseda University?

Waseda develops people who will support Japan and become the nerves of Japan. Therefore, I hope that the university develops professionals who will spiritually enrich Japan and who will spare no effort in working for other people. Of course, these kinds of things can not be directly taught at a university, but it would be ideal if such qualities were acquired unconsciously by the time of graduation.

Through sports, a person can naturally learn the importance of following rules, and can naturally make friends. Although I am only familiar with baseball, I can say that a spirit of coordination is naturally developed through baseball. For example, the base runner advances because you laid down a bunt. The sacrifice of yourself leads to a run for your team. In other words, each athlete has their own role to play. I believe that Japan will become a happier country if there are more people who are happy that they tried their hardest every single moment.

Waseda has a Spartan-like image, or an image of having a strong spiritual element. I believe that this is a very important quality in the world. The world is becoming a place where money is everything, so I hope Waseda produces students who can be said to "possess a Japanese heart".

--Through sports, you are also actively involved in exchanges with children and other activities.

Baseball allows me to interact with children. I can show children a man who has continued baseball well into his later years, and I can show them how I convey important things to people. I want to show children how wonderful it is to become immersed in enthusiasm for something that you love.

I think that adults have a responsibility to provide children with this kind of opportunity and environment. By doing so, I believe that I can show my gratitude and repay my obligation to society.

Mr. Sadaharu Oh Chairman and former Coach of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

Born in Tokyo in 1940. During his time at Waseda Jitsugyo High School, he participated in a total of 4 spring and summer baseball tournaments at Koshien Stadium. In his sophomore year, he was a key player in the championship during the Spring All-Select Tournament. He entered the Yomiuri Giants in 1958 and perfected the one-legged batting form in his 4th year as a professional player. Beginning from that point, he won 13 consecutive and 15 total home run crowns. In 1977, he recorded his 756 home run, which project the Major League home run record. He retired from play in 1980 after having hit a total of 868 home runs. Served as coach of the Giants for 5 years beginning from 1984 and led the team to a league championship in 1987. Became coach of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks (currently the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks) in 1995. After leading the Hawks to 3 league championships and 2 consecutive Japan series championships, he retired from baseball in 2008. In 2006, he served as coach of the Japanese National Team in the 1st World Baseball Classic world tournament, and led the team to becoming the tournaments first ever champion. He is also a Specially Recommended Alumni of Waseda University.