The first Japanese-born player in the major leagues left American baseball 30 years before the first star from Japan emerged here. Masanori Murakami came over from the Nankai Hawks to the San Francisco Giants in 1964, and pitched his first major league game on Sept. 1 of that season.
He pitched two seasons in the United States and then returned to Japan. He was the last Japanese player to move from Nippon Professional Baseball to the majors until 1995, when Hideo Nomo (who turned 43 Wednesday) came over to the Los Angeles Dodgers — touching off "Nomo Mania," winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award and finishing fourth in Cy Young voting.
(Nomo wasn't actually the second major leaguer born in Japan. Three players, Bobby Fenwick, Steve Chitren and Jim Bowie — who combined for 111 games played between them — were born in Japan to American parents. Fenwick was the son of an American father and a Japanese-American mother of Okinawan descent.)
[Related: An older post by 'Duk with moreRead More »from Japan’s Masanori Murakami joined the majors 47 years ago Thursday