Pioneering Pan-Pacific Pitcher Nomo Says No Mo’

Hideo Nomo is saying sayonara to the summer game, as one of the first Japanese stars of Major League Baseball has announced his retirement.

Hideo Nomo Royals

ESPN hears from Nomo’s agent Don Nomura that his client finally called it quits on Thursday, as the 39-year-old hurler has been teamless since the Kansas City Royals cut him last April.

Guys like Ichiro, Dice-K and Hideki Matsui all have Nomo to thank for their successful (and profitable) careers in America, since Hideo helped pave the way for Japanese players to compete in the States.

AFP points out that when he signed with the Dodgers in 1995, Nomo became the first Japanese player on an MLB roster since Masanori Murakami spent two seasons with the Giants in the 1960s. And when Hideo’s debut season resulted in NL Rookie of the Year honors, other clubs were soon convinced to give more thought to players from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Nomo leaves the game as only the 4th pitcher in Major League history to hurl no-hitters in both NL & AL parks - doing the deed for the Dodgers in 1996 at Colorado’s Coors Field, and again ringing up zeros for the Red Sox in 2001 at Baltimore’s Camden Yards.

Unfortunately, Hideo also left Kansas City with an 18.69 ERA after three rotten relief appearances for the Royals. But he did finish his career with an overall ERA of 4.24 & a winning record of 123-109 after stints with LA, KC, Boston, the Mets, Brewers, Tigers and Devil Rays.

In honor of Nomo’s retirement, here’s a clip of Hideo facing future teammate Eric Karros during a 1992 MLB-Japan All-Star exhibition series:

Check out Hideo’s Kintetsu Buffaloes uniform. Guess it helps to have the full team name on the cap, although the cap style looks less Major League and more rec league.