Way back during the 2016 Blogathon (which I’ve never been able to do again due to “life”), I did a post on how the grandfather of John Cena, Tony Lupien, played in the big leagues during the 1940s. We’ve also covered “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s minor league career. Today we’re going back to the world of professional wrestling, albeit in Japan.
The player-turned-wrestler in question is Shohei Baba, better known as Giant Baba. While he had some stints in the USA, in Japan he is one of the most famous wrestlers ever and is remembered as the co-founder of the All-Japan Pro Wrestling organization.
Standing anywhere between 6’6″ and 6’10” depending on the source, Baba is believed to have been one of the tallest people to ever play baseball professionally in Japan. According to Wikipedia (which sources Japanese articles), Baba was known for his height from the beginning: in high school he was known as “Sanjo High School’s giant pitcher.” He had the talent to get signed by the Yomiuri Giants, and proceeded to do very well in the minor leagues in Japan, at one point even being named best pitcher in the minor league he was in. However, health injuries (including a brain tumor!) and injuries meant he never made it to the top level very often. He only pitched in three games for the top club, although he did do well in that limited action, holding a 1.29 ERA:
A few years later, he’d give up baseball and step into the ring. The rest is history.