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A's

Japanese Home Run King Oh Pays Tribute To Matsui For 500th Homer

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Manager Sadaharu Oh of Team Japan celebrates after defeating Team Cuba in the Final game of the World Baseball Classic at Petco Park on March 20, 2006 in San Diego, California. Japan defeated Cuba 10-6 to win the World Baseball Classic. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Manager Sadaharu Oh of Team Japan celebrates after defeating Team Cuba in the Final game of the World Baseball Classic at Petco Park on March 20, 2006 in San Diego, California. Japan defeated Cuba 10-6 to win the World Baseball Classic. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND (CBS/AP) – Japanese home run king Sadaharu Oh paid tribute to Hideki Matsui after the Oakland Athletics’ outfielder hit his 500th homer.

“Five hundred is a figure that carries a lot of worth in the major leagues,” Oh said Thursday. “To keep hitting home runs during a tough schedule while maintaining your conditioning is not easy.”

Matsui has 168 home runs in the majors and 332 for the Yomiuri Giants.

Oh hit a record 868 home runs over 22 seasons with the Giants, helping his team win nine straight Japan Series championships between 1965-73. Oh shares the Japanese single-season home run record of 55 with Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera.

Only eight players have hit more than 500 homers in the history of Japanese professional baseball.

On Wednesday night in Detroit, Matsui homered and drove in three runs in Oakland’s 7-5 victory.

“I’m happy to get it over with, and it is even better that it helped us win a game,” Matsui said through an interpreter. “It isn’t like I’ve been aiming for this, because I don’t really combine numbers from Japan and here. To me, they are two separate leagues.”

Matsui led off the sixth inning with his milestone homer – his first since June 16 – to put Oakland up 3-2.

“I never dreamed he would achieve what he has achieved,” Matsui’s father, Masao, told NikkanSports newspaper. “I hope he does everything he can to help his team win.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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