Below a letter I received from my nephew who is a professor of media history at the University of Maine. He worked for CNN covering the Olympics three or four times and met some interesting people. For those who don’t know he is referring to Saduhara Oh the Babe Ruth of baseball in Japan.
Interesting. I met Oh at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and actually worked with him (passed him information/stats while he was doing Olympic baseball TV coverage during Japan games). It was more the way everyone in the press box treated him – the whole place sort of came to a halt each time he arrived and everyone looked at him. My other memory of him is that he wasn’t very tall (I’d guess 5’7″) but he was an absolute brick of a human – he was built like Barney Rubble. Totally square, with broad shoulders and a huge barrel chest. He was very friendly, shook everyone’s hands, signed autographs, and posed for photos.
The other big memory of those games was about the Cuban third baseman Omar Linares. He was probably the best 3rd baseman on the planet, but stuck in Castro’s Cuba and a real lifer – there was no way he was going to defect (they threw anybody suspect off the team anyway). Scouts from the Phillies, Braves and Expos finagled there way into the press box and begged me to get them press passes to the mixed zone (athlete/media – for media interviews only) so they could speak with him. He could’ve made millions on the spot. I didn’t do anything because I was afraid I’d be fired if I got them in. But I was in the mixed zone once a few days later, and in the tunnel Linares was loudly arguing with a few Japanese people. From what I could tell, he kept telling them he needed more and more boxes of Mizuno cleats – and they didn’t have them. What stuck with me was that here was a guy begging his team’s sponsor for shoes who could’ve been making millions and millions if he wanted to figure out a way to defect.