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Dodgers All-Star rookies: Hideo Nomo, 1995

Unlike Yasiel Puig, Hideo Nomo took a great June into not only making the team but being named the 1995 All-Star Game National League starting pitcher joining battery mate Mike Piazza in the starting lineup

Yasiel Puig did not become the sixth Dodgers rookie to be named to the National League All-Star team. But we conclude this series of profiles with the last Dodger to be accorded that honor as a rookie.

In the February 13, 1995 edition of the LA Times, Bob Nightengale writes that the Dodgers had just signed a pitcher to a minor league contract.

The Dodgers signed Japanese star pitcher Hideo Nomo to a minor-league contract Sunday, and will introduce him and his family today at a downtown news conference. According to one source, Nomo will receive a signing bonus in excess of $2 million, the largest ever provided to a non-major league player.

Nomo, 26, who is expected to replace Orel Hershiser in the starting rotation, would become the first Japanese player from that nation's major leagues to appear in the U.S. major leagues.

The 1995 season did not begin in the customary first week of April time period because the 1994 baseball strike didn't come to end until April 2, 1995. The 144-game regular season started 3 weeks later.

Hideo Nomo made his first start for the Dodgers on May 2, 1995. That month he started 6 games, going 0-1 and recording a 3.82 ERA. There were three things that were evident, he was hard to hit (.197 batting average against), his control was spotty (6.8 BB/9 innings) and he produced a lot of swings and misses (13.4K/9 innings). But no one after May was thinking All-Star game.

Then Hideo Nomo had one of the greatest Junes in Dodger history. In his 6 starts, he pitched at least 8 innings in all 6 games, he gave up a total of 5 earned runs in 50.1 innings, he allowed 25 hits and 16 walks while striking out 60. He would win all 6 games, capping the month with back to back, complete game, 13 strike out shutouts (per Baseball Reference, no other Dodger pitcher has ever had back to back shutouts with 13 or more strikeouts, not Koufax, not Drysdale, not Fernando).

He would have one more start before the All-Star game and from an ERA nearing 4 runs a game in May, he had got it down to less than 2 runs in those seven starts.

Hideo Nomo would be the second Dodger rookie selected to start an All-Star game, joining Fernando Valenzuela.

The 1995 All-Star game was played at the then named The Ballpark in Arlington in front of 50,920 fans in attendance.

Nomo faced the minimum number of batters, 6 total, in his two innings of work. He struck out 3, allowed one hit, 0 runs and no walks. His battery mate, Mike Piazza would hit a solo homer that would tie the game at 2, the NL would win the game on the back of a Jeff Conine solo shot that provided the one run for the 3 to 2 victory.

Hideo Nomo would never pitch in another All-Star game but he did go on to be awarded the 1995 National League Rookie of the Year.

On Saturday August 10th, the Dodgers will have a Hideo Nomo Bobble Head giveaway. It will the middle game of a 3-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays.

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