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Hideo Nomo - L.a. Dodger, Japanese Superstar

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When Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda saw Nomo pitch, he told his coaches, "Don't touch a thing with this kid's motion or his delivery. The batter doesn't know what he's doing out there, but he does." Nomo himself, speaking through a translator because he speaks little English, told People in 1995 that he does not know how he developed his windup. "I just wanted to pitch," he said. "Every part came naturally."

Chronology

1968 Born August 31, in Osaka, Japan
1986 Graduates from Seijyo Kogyo High School, where he played baseball and developed his trademark pitching windup
1988 Leads the Japanese baseball team to the Olympic silver medal win in Seoul, South Korea
1989 Is chosen by the Kintetsu Buffaloes professional team in the Japanese Pacific League in first round of free-agent draft
1990-94 Plays with the Kintetsu Buffaloes
1991 Marries wife, Kikuko; they will have two children, Takahiro and Yoshitaka
1994 Injures arm and is limited to 114 innings
1995 Signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers on February 8, becoming the first Japanese major league player to move to the American major leagues and only the second Japanese to play in the American major leagues
1995 Appears onstage with American music group the Eagles at a concert in Tokyo on November 15; on New Year's Eve, Japanese television runs a 12-hour special on Nomo
1996 Signs new contract with Dodgers
1997 Is hit in elbow with a ball and requires surgery to remove bone fragments at end of season; pitching record drops to 14-12; teaches at Nike instructional baseball clinics throughout Asia during baseball offseason
1998 Is traded to the New York Mets in June
1999 Asks for release from Mets in March; is signed by the Chicago Cubs one week later; Cubs trade him to Milwaukee Brewers after only two outings
2000 Signs one-year contract with Detroit Tigers as a free agent; signs with Boston Red Sox at end of season
2001 Signs two-year contract with Los Angeles Dodgers on December 20 for $13 million

After signing with the Dodgers, Nomo became a superstar in Japan. Asian fans came to Dodger games in record numbers, and busloads of Japanese tourists arrived to watch their hero play or to buy Nomo memorabilia. When Nomo was named starting pitcher for the All-Star Game in 1995, some fifteen million people watched the televised game in Japan. The pressure on him was great, but Nomo told his fans, "I will not disappoint." In 1995 he won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, even though he had played professional baseball in Japan.

On September 17, 1996, Nomo made baseball history by pitching a no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies at their Coors Field, known as a hitter's paradise. Nomo was the first Dodger pitcher to strike out more than 200 batters in his first two seasons. In 1997, however, batters began to catch on to his delivery, and his record and ERA dropped to 14-12 and 4.25. Late in the season he was hit in the elbow with a ball and had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone fragments. In mid-1998, the Dodgers revamped their team and traded Nomo to the New York Mets.

Hideo Nomo - Chronology [next] [back] Hideo Nomo - Super Tornado

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