Can you recall Opening Day 1994 at Wrigley Gum Field in Chicago when Karl Tuffy Rhodes cranked out three yard/shots into the left-center field bleachers? And then, finished the season with 8 just homers and hit just 13 in 225 games over parts of six seasons in the major leagues in the United States. Well, he's now going for the Japanese record of 55 set by legend Sadaharu Oh back in 1964. Rhodes plays for the Kintetsu Buffaloes and has blasted 49 home runs this season. Rhodes' belted a two-run shot on September 2, 2001 to lead Kintetsu over the Nippon Ham Fighters 10-9 and help the Buffaloes maintain a half game lead over the defending champions - the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. 'I'm trying not to think of the record,' said Tuffy Rhodes, now 33-years old. 'We're looking to win a championship and right now that's all I'm focusing on. I'm just having a good time here in Japan.'
The last time a foreign player made a run at Oh's home run record was back in 1985 when Randy Bass hit 54 while playing for the Hanshin Tigers. As he was entering the last weeks of the '85 season, Bass saw fewer and fewer strikes and started to hold his bat upside down in protest of what many called a conspiracy to keep an American from setting a new home run record. But, Rhodes says he hasn't faced a similar problem. 'I'm just trying to swing at pitches in the strike zone,' Rhodes said. ' 'I've been getting good pitches to hit and it helps having good hitters behind you.' NEWS FLASH: Tuffy Rhodes hit 55 home runs in 2001 and ended tied with Japan's legendary home run king, Sadaharu Oh. baseballhistorian.com - the History of Baseball