Posted by HG on May 9, 2007


12 years ago Hideo Nomo became the first Japanese player in Major League Baseball since Masanori Murakami pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 1965. Baseball was caught up in Nomo Mania as the Dodger hurler twisted and pitched his way to the Rookie of the Year award. Hideo’s success proved that a Japanese player could make the move from the NPB to MLB and opened the doors for players such as Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui. There are now 14 Japanese born players in the Majors and they all should tip their hats towards Nomo.

The latest “next big thing” from Japan is Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka (Dice-K). Matsuzaka mania started when the Red Sox paid $51mil for the right to negotiate with Dice K. The Sox then shelled out another $52mil (over 6 years) to have the owner of the mythical gyroball in their rotation. That’s a helluva lot better than the $2mil signing bonus and league minimum $109,000 Nomo got in his first year, and the 3 year $4.3mil contract he signed in 1996.

I know the financial landscape of baseball has changed drastically, but Nomo got robbed. He’d be worth at least 5 million a year now.. I mean 5mil per before he had even thrown a pitch in the majors. If I was Nomo I’d be downing handfuls of HGH pills trying to get my Roger Clemens on… It wasn’t all bad for Hideo Nomo.. I mean, like I said earlier, he did win the Rookie of the Year, and he threw one of the most unlikely no hitters of all time at Coors field in Colorado.

If you’re like me and wonder about weird shit from time to time (like how did Eric Gagne pitch exactly 82 1/3 innings in ’02, ’03, and ’04?!?) then you wanna know how do Nomo’s first 6 starts match-up with Matsuzaka’s first 6. Let’s take a look.

Hideo Nomo: 0-1 (5 no decisions? good lawd!!), 3.82 ERA, 49k’s, 25bb

Daisuke Matsuzaka: 3-2, 5.45 ERA, 39k’s, 15bb

Hideo’s control was an issue and he got to face the hitter friendly National League, while Dice-K has picked up wins but watched his ERA go up every game. What did I learn by doing this? Nothing really…

Japanese players are enjoying success in the states but what’s happening back in Japan? The NPB is feeling the loss of it’s stars to the United States. Hideki Matsui’s old team, the Yomiuri Giants, have seen their tv ratings decline more than 50% since Matsui left in 2002. 40 Yomiuri Giants games will be shown on Japanese network tv this year, that’s nothing compared to the 250 MLB games that will be shown. Maybe we can ship off our reality tv shows to fill the programming gaps in Japan. One country’s loss is another country’s gain.

Hideo Nomo 1995 Game By Game Pitching Logs. Courtesy of Baseball-Almanac

Daisuke Matsuzaka player page. Courtesy of

Land of Rising Sun sees interest falling as Japanese stars depart. Courtesy of The Baltimore Sun

The Boston Red Sox (D. Matsuzaka) @ The Toronto Blue Jays (T. Ohka). Preview Courtesy of



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