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As an iconic figure in a nation historically mesmerized by the Olympics and mad about baseball, Japan’s greatest home run hitter, Sadaharu Oh, was overjoyed Saturday with his country’s first Olympic baseball gold medal.

Japanese amateurs won bronze in 1992 and silver in 1996, but teams led by pros struggled in 2000, 2004, and 2008 at the Beijing Olympics, when the sport last appeared on the games’ sporting slate.

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