The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball

» 17 January 2014 » In mlb, nichibei, npb »

“This isn’t because I wanted to play in the Majors at all costs. It’s just that I feel I can’t play for that manager (Keishi Suzuki), that’s all”



Hideo Nomo, speaking about his decision to pursue an MLB career (source)

Nomo’s retirement and Suzuki’s insanity pre-dates my following of Japanese baseball, but I have read a little bit about Nomo and Suzuki. Suzuki’s treatment of Nomo was particularly grueling, including 191-pitch and 180-pitch starts, and comments like “to cure your pain, throw more.”

Nomo is rightfully credited as the player that opened the door for Japanese and Asian players in Major League Baseball. But he might not have done it Keishi Suzuki had been, you know, sane.

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  1. Patrick
    NPB Card Guy
    17/01/2014 at 7:31 pm Permalink

    In Robert Whiting’s book “The Meaning Of Ichiro” he points out that the key guy in the Nomo story was Buffaloes manager Akira Ohgi. Nomo had flourished under him and (as you point out) had Ohgi remained with Kintetsu, Nomo would have probably stayed in Japan.

    Of course, if Ohgi had stayed with Kintetsu, it’s entirely possible that a teenage outfielder with Orix would never had come to prominence – after all, his pre-1994 manager Shozo Doi felt he would never hit with his batting stance. Under Ohgi, that outfielder did quite a bit of hitting with that stance before following Nomo to the US after 2000.

  2. Patrick
    Michael Westbay
    18/01/2014 at 7:44 am Permalink

    I was sure you were going to say that Nomo was the “man who changed Japanese baseball.” Nice twist ending.

  3. Patrick
    18/01/2014 at 11:26 pm Permalink

    What can I say? Great players don’t necessarily make good managers

  4. Patrick
    22/01/2014 at 10:33 am Permalink

    A lot of those coaches are just nuts, just look at American football or the Chicago Cubs for examples of nuts. Maybe it’s a requirement. As you know, Masahiro Tanaka just signed the $155 m contract with the Yankees.