Kaoru Betto

One of Japan’s first home run threats, Betto served in WWII and struggled at other jobs before turning to pro baseball at age 28. In 1950, he challenged Tomio Fujimara’s Japanese HR record of 45, falling two short. Among the most flamboyant early Japanese stars, he married a beauty queen, and boasted that he never faced a pitcher he couldn’t hit. As interim manager of the Taiyo Whales in 1967, he won ten games in a row before persuading the man he replaced to return. He did later become Taiyo’s manager.