Hideo Nomo will be inducted into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame. Ceremonies will be held on the field to honor the 2014 inductees prior to the Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star Game at Seibu Dome in Tokorozawa (near Tokyo), Japan. Chan Ho Park will receive recognition during retirement ceremonies prior to the Korean Professional Baseball All-Star Game at Champions Field, Kwangju, South Korea.
Nomo became the youngest player elected to the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame at age 45 and 4 months on January 17, 2014. He is only the third player in history elected to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Victor Starffin, a Russian who pitched and won 303 games in Japan and Tokyo Giants’ superstar Sadaharu Oh, the all-time leader in home runs with 868, were the others elected to the Hall in their first year of eligibility.
Peter O’Malley, president of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1970-1998, will participate in the induction ceremonies in support of his friend Nomo. O’Malley is chairman of Historic Dodgertown. In 2012, Nomo and Park became founding partners of Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida and each has helped encourage teams from Asia to train there.
“Nomo and Park are both true pioneers,” said O’Malley. “They opened the door for more players from Japan and South Korea to participate in Major League Baseball. Today, there have been 40 players from Japan and 14 from South Korea who have played in the major leagues. I am very proud of their leadership and their on-going commitment to youth baseball in Japan and South Korea.”
O’Malley’s vision to grow the game internationally has enabled Nomo and Park to fulfill a dream of playing against the best competition in Major League Baseball.
Nomo became one of the most popular and documented players in the history of the Dodgers following his groundbreaking February 13, 1995 free agent signing by O’Malley. He was known as “Warrior” as a fierce competitor on the mound.
Every move that Nomo made from the time he reported to Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida for his first Spring Training to the final game of the 1995 season was closely chronicled by hordes of media from Japan. Despite the pressure and burden of being constantly observed by the press corps and a nation back home, he maintained his calm demeanor and significantly produced on the field for the Dodgers. Nomo was the first Japanese-born player to play in Major League Baseball from Japan’s Pacific or Central Leagues since Masanori Murakami in 1964-65. Only this one stayed, as Murakami pitched for the San Francisco Giants for two seasons and then returned to Japan to complete his career.
Nomo was selected as the starting pitcher for the 1995 All-Star Game in Texas and struck out three in two scoreless innings. After going 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA in 28 starts, he was named 1995 N.L. Rookie of the Year, the fourth consecutive Dodger in a string of five to earn that distinction. He became a role model for school-aged children and the biggest hero imaginable in Japan.
Nomo won 123 games in 12 major league seasons, plus 78 games for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in Japan. He pitched for the Dodgers from 1995-1998 and 2002-2004. Nomo’s popularity was historic, as his homeland watched every start on giant television screens placed on buildings and on street corners in 13 major cities. No matter when the game started, it was televised live in Japan. Dodger Stadium was packed for his starts and he filled National League stadiums when he pitched, creating a phenomenon known as “Nomomania,” as Americans of Japanese descent attended, while tourists from Japan also flocked to watch him.
Nomo is one of only five pitchers to have thrown a no-hitter in both the American and National Leagues (for the Dodgers at Colorado and for the Red Sox at Baltimore). Twice he led the league in strikeouts – with 236 in the N.L. for the 1995 Dodgers and 220 in the American League for the 2001 Boston Red Sox.
Nomo now is leading an industrial league team in the Osaka region of Japan, called “Nomo Baseball Club,” which gives non-drafted players (semi-professional) an opportunity to compete.
Fellow 2014 Hall of Fame inductees with Nomo including former major league pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki, ex-slugger Koji Akiyama (current manager of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks) and Choichi Aida, the former baseball coach of prestigious Waseda University, who passed away in 2012. There are 184 members of the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame.
Park, 41, signed as a free agent pitcher with the Dodgers on January 14, 1994. He enjoyed 17 seasons in Major League Baseball, including nine with the Dodgers (1994-2001, 2008). In 2001, he was a National League All-Star for the Dodgers. Park’s 124 major league wins are the most by a pitcher from Asia. He also pitched in three postseasons, including the 2009 World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies. Park pitched in 1,993 innings and had 1,715 strikeouts.
Park, from Kong Ju City, first pitched at Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida during 1994 Spring Training as a rookie. Park made his first pitching appearance indoors on February 19, after a second consecutive day of rain cancelled his original debut at Holman Stadium.
Since retiring from his playing days in the United States in 2010, Park pitched one season for the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan and one year for the professional Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization in South Korea, where he remains one of the nation’s most popular athletes.
Today, Park is developing a baseball training center and entertainment complex in South Korea.
(Article courtesy of bzapr.com)