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Rhodes ends up tying Oh's Japanese HR mark
October 6, 2001
Bad news, folks. He couldn't do it.
Our American baseball icon fell short of the home run record.
That's right. Karl (Tuffy) Rhodes couldn't break the Japanese single-season record of 55 home runs that Sadaharu Oh set in 1964.
Rhodes -- who played with the Houston Astros, the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox in 1990-95 -- went 0-for-4 in his final game of the season Friday and wound up tying Oh's mark. Rhodes, an outfielder with the Kintetsu Buffaloes, flied out three times and grounded out in a 7-1 loss to the Orix BlueWave at Kobe, Japan.
About the only thing Rhodes didn't have trouble hitting was a slump. Rhodes went homerless in his last five games after equalling Oh's mark Sept. 24.
Unlike Barry Bonds, who received a multitude of walks in Houston before he hit No. 70, Rhodes had his chances.
Rhodes had plenty of clean hits and deep fly balls. He was moved into the leadoff spot in the batting order after Saturday's game against Lotte in order to get more at-bats.
"I had a lot of good pitches today," Rhodes, a 33-year-old native of Cincinnati, said last Saturday. "They were all fastballs and I just made a few mistakes."
The only team that blatantly tried to prevent Rhodes from breaking the mark was the Daiei Hawks, managed by Oh. Pitcher Keizaburo Tanoue threw just two strikes in 18 pitches Sunday as Rhodes desperately swung at balls far out of the strike zone.
Oh insisted he was "out of the loop" and that the decision to walk Rhodes four times was made by Tanoue.
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