Rhodes reaches 450 homers in Japan

By Ed Eagle
Updated: April 26, 2009

NEW YORK — Tuffy Rhodes is best known in the United States for hitting three home runs off Dwight Gooden on Opening Day in 1994 while playing for the Cubs.

Sunday, halfway across the world from Wrigley Field, Rhodes had another memorable three-homer performance on his way to becoming the first American-born Japanese professional player to amass 450 career long balls.

Rhodes hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to become just the 12th Japanese professional player to reach the 450-home run mark. He added a three-run homer in the fifth and a two-run shot in the eighth to help lead his Orix Buffaloes to an 11-3 drubbing of the Nippon Ham Fighters.

The 40-year-old Rhodes, who is in his 13th season in Japan, now leads all active players there with 452 career long balls. Tomoaki Kanemoto of the Hanshin Tigers ranks second with 429.

“When I first came to Japan, I never thought I would hit this many homers,” Rhodes told the Associated Press.

Legendary slugger Sadaharu Oh holds the all-time Japanese career mark with 868 home runs. Rhodes tied Oh’s single-season home run record with 55 long balls in 2001. He’s hit 50-plus homers in a season twice, and has surpassed the 40-homer mark on five additional occasions.

In six Major League seasons from 1990-95 with the Astros, Cubs and Red Sox, Rhodes batted .224 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs in 225 games. Rhodes attempted a big league comeback with the Reds in 2006 but was released during Spring Training.