Update: I finally got to the site but there was nothing enlightening there. All signs were pointing to Nomo being done anyway; pitched in three games for the Royals earlier this year but was awful and got released. Sanspo reported earlier in the year that Rakuten was in negotiations with Nomo, but nothing ever came of it. That’s too bad, I was hoping to see him make a farewell tour in Japan.
I think the baseball community owes Nomo quite a bit: he helped create a new opportunity in MLB for Japanese players, and opened up the Japanese market for MLB teams. The two sides are certainly closer now than they were 15 years ago, and it started with him.
While Nomo’s legacy will mostly be as a pioneer, let’s not forget he was a great pitcher as well. He won 201 games between Japan and America. He also threw two MLB no-hitters, the first of which was at Coors Field. Although he was inconsistant in his later years, he was certainly dominant at times.
Mainichi.jp has a nice photo retrospective of Nomo’s career.