Conversation between Sadaharu Oh and Akio Chiba (creator of ‘Captain’)

New Year’s Special Feature in the January 1978 issue of Monthly Shōnen Jump

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Chiba: Mr. Oh, congratulations on hitting home run number 756. I was watching on TV, and I couldn't help jumping out of my seat when you did it.

Oh: Thank you. I was only able to do it because I had everyone's support.

Chiba: After that home run, you raised your arms in celebration. You don't usually express much joy, even after hitting a home run.

Oh: That's right. Our manager [Shigeo Nagashima], during his playing days, would express joy with his whole body after hitting a home run, but I just can't do that. Kuni-san [Hitting Coach Akira Kunimatsu] always tells me: “The fans are happy for you, so you should gesture in response.” But... I'm just not a showman by nature.

Chiba: I think if you take even more time to round the bases, that would be good. But you're being yourself, Mr. Oh, and I think that's great.

Oh: When one tries too hard to look a certain way, isn't that strange? Anyway... about number 756... fans all over Japan were eager to see it, and so were my teammates. I didn't want to make them wait. So when I got it done,

I was really happy.

Chiba: Around May and June, when you were in a slump, some people said you might not be able to break the record this year [1977]. How did you feel about it?

Oh: As long as one keeps practicing, the slump will pass. Once that happens, I will be able to do it. That's what I was thinking.

Chiba: I also play baseball, on a team called the Whiters. We're all manga artists [graphic storytellers].

Oh: What position do you play?

Chiba: Center field. We've played at Korakuen Stadium [then home of the Yomiuri Giants].

Oh: Last season, I played right field a bit. Outfielders have no one else around. It's a very lonely position, isn't it?

Chiba: I'm hoping you'll teach me about hitting, Mr. Oh.

Oh: Batting varies from person to person, so there isn't one particular way. But I can say one thing for sure: the first thing is to see the ball well. Not just see it, but focus everything you have on the ball.

Chiba: So that's why you look so stern when you're in the batter's box...

Oh: Also, never tense up before you hit. The only time you exert is the moment the bat makes contact with the ball. That's why my swing looks slower than others'.

Chiba: I'm lucky to receive such valuable advice. Are there any secrets to your one-legged stance?

Oh: When you raise the leg, squeeze the inside muscles, from your thigh to your knee.

Chiba: Speaking of practice, in 'Captain,' the characters are always practicing. They practice so much you wonder if they'll still be able to play at game time.

Oh: I know. I always read the latest issue.

Chiba: Really?

Oh: The first captain, Taniguchi, is now in 'Playball,' in a weekly comic, right? Also, that short guy, Igarashi. He's pretty good.

Chiba: I'm sure Igarashi is thrilled to hear that from you, Mr. Oh. The next captain will be this guy, Kondo [illustrated in photo]. He will succeed Igarashi.

Oh: Oh yes, Kondo... that jumpy kid. I'm not sure that's going to work out. Can he live up to the responsibilities of a captain? I'm concerned.

Chiba: I'm worried, too.

Oh: By the way, Sumiya Junior High School No. 2 [the fictional school featured in 'Captain'] is in the Shitamachi part of Tokyo, right? I grew up in Shitamachi, so I feel a connection. You grew up in Shitamachi, too, right?

Chiba: Yes. Mr. Oh, I heard that in junior high school, you played in the Teiko Grounds in Sumida Park. I played there, too.

Oh: Oh, sure, I played there. That brings back good memories. When I was a child, my days were filled with baseball, every day.

Chiba: Did you read manga?

Oh: Of course. It was a monthly magazine that came with many bonus gifts.

Chiba: Mr. Oh, I hope you keep hitting home runs — even after number 800 — and that you'll continue to extend your record. I'll also be rooting for you to win the Japan Series.

Oh: 'Captain' is fun to read. I hope you'll make it even more so.


Source (w/ photo of Oh and Chiba holding a drawing of Kondō, autographed by both. An illustration of Oh by Chiba is also posted):
(Encoding may need to be changed to “Japanese (Shift_JIS)”)

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