|Silver medal – second place
|| San Juan 1989
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Hideo Nomo (野茂 英雄|Nomo Hideo?), born August 31, 1968 in Minato-ku, Osaka, Japan, is a former right-handed pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) from Japan. He achieved early success in Japan, where he played with the Kintetsu Buffaloes from
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Nomo pitched over the span of 13 seasons in the American major leagues with 8 different teams, before retiring in
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Success in Japan
Nomo was on the silver medal winning Japanese baseball team at the 1988 Olympics, and the Kintetsu Buffaloes drafted him in
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Moving to the Major Leagues
Nomo had become one of the most popular baseball players in Japan but after the 1994 season, Nomo got into a contract dispute with team management. The Buffaloes rebuffed Nomo's demands to have a contract agent and multi-year contract. Instead of working things out with the Buffaloes, Nomo and his agent, Don Nomura, "exploited a loophole in the agreement between Japanese baseball and the major leagues: if a player retired, he was free to play for whomever he wished." This led to him heading to the U.S., where in February 1995, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed him.
Nomo made his U.S. pro baseball debut with the Bakersfield Blaze on April 27, 1995, against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Placed on a 90-pitch limit, and throwing mainly fastballs, Nomo pitched 5⅓ innings, taking the 2–1 loss against the Quakes. On May 2, after a month in the minors necessitated by a player's strike, he became the first Japanese-born Japanese Leaguer to appear in a major league game since Masanori Murakami in
- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year. He was also the first Japanese-born player to relocate permanently to the American major leagues, as Murakami played only two seasons with the San Francisco Giants and then returned to the Japanese major leagues for the remainder of his career. The pressure on Nomo would be tremendous, and Japanese media and fans appeared in large numbers in games he started. Nomo's games were regularly broadcast live to Japan, despite the fact most people would be waking up when he started games.
Career in the United States
The tornado delivery that baffled batters in Japan had the same effect on major league hitters, and he led the league in strikeouts in 1995 (while finishing second in walks) and was second with a 2.54 ERA. He struck out 11.101 batters per 9 innings to break Sandy Koufax's single-season franchise record of 10.546 in
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Nomo also found commercial success in America. Nomo had a signature sneaker, called the Air Max Nomo, produced by Nike in 1996. Also, he appeared on a Segata Sanshiro commercial for the Sega Saturn in 1997.
As batters caught on to his delivery, his effectiveness waned a bit in
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Nomo pitched poorly in
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Nomo signed with the Boston Red Sox in
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- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year. Nomo also became just the fourth player in baseball history to have thrown a no-hitter in both leagues (joining Cy Young, Jim Bunning and Nolan Ryan. Randy Johnson would later join them, becoming the 5th player after throwing a perfect game in 2004). It is the earliest, calendar-wise, that a Major League Baseball no-hitter has been pitched. Nomo also led the league in strikeouts for the first time since his first season in MLB.
A free agent after the end of the year, Nomo returned to the Dodgers, in
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Nomo began to struggle again in
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Before the start of spring training for
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On January 4,
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Nomo has 123 wins in the Major Leagues and 78 in Japan, winning his 200th overall game on June 15, 2005. Nomo's success helped inspire other stars from Japan such as Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, and Daisuke Matsuzaka to come over to the States as well.
In addition, Nomo is one of only five players that have ever pitched at least one no-hitter game in both the National League and American League in Major League Baseball history. He has, to date, thrown the only no-hitters at Coors Field and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
He won the 1996 ESPY Award for Breakthrough Athlete.
Nomo was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, the youngest player ever elected to that Hall of Fame, and only the third ever to be selected in their first year of eligibility.
In popular culture
A song about Nomo, "There's No One Like Nomo" performed by Jack Sheldon, written by Marvin Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, was released by GNP Crescendo Records (GNPD 1406) in 1996.
Pro wrestler Mitsuhide Hirasawa adopted the ring name Hideo Saito, partially in homage to Nomo.
- Fagen, Herb. Nomo: The Inside Story on Baseball's Hottest Sensation. Friday Harbor, Wash.: Turtleback Books, 1996. ISBN 0-606-09699-X, ISBN 0-451-18884-5.
- Rodman, Edmon J. Nomo: The Tornado Who Took America by Storm. Los Angeles: Lowell House, 1996. ISBN 1-56565-394-7.
- Whiting, Robert, "Nomo blazed trail, helped mend fences with move", Japan Times, 3 October 2010, p. 22.
- Whiting, Robert, "Contract loophole opened door for Nomo's jump", Japan Times, 10 October 2010, p. 18.
- Whiting, Robert, "Tireless work ethic earned Nomo respect in majors", Japan Times, 17 October 2010, p. 18.
- Whiting, Robert, "Nomo's legacy should land him in Hall of Fame", Japan Times, 24 October 2010, p. 22.
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