Former Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo was elected on Friday to the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame, and at 45 years, four months old is the youngest player ever to receive the honor.
Nomo was elected along with a class including Kazuhiro Sasaki and Koji Akiyama. Nomo is also just the third player ever to be elected to the Japan Hall of Fame on the first ballot, joining all-time home run leader Sadaharu Oh and Victor Starffin, a Russian pitcher who won 303 games.
“The Los Angeles Dodgers congratulate Hideo Nomo on his election to the Japanese Hall of Fame,” said Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten. “‘Nomomania’ was a very special time for Dodger fans in the United States and internationally. He had a great career both in Japan and the United States and that’s quite evident by the overwhelming voter support Hideo received in gaining entrance on the first ballot.”
Nomo signed with the Dodgers in 1995, the first Japanese player in the big leagues since Masanori Murakami in 1965. Nomo is credited with having blazed a trail for such Japanese starts as Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui, among others to come to MLB from Japan.
In his first two seasons in Los Angeles Nomo finished fourth in the Cy Young balloting, and captured Rookie of the Year honors in 1995 after going 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA and leading the league with 236 strikeouts.
If you thought the excitement surrounding Yasiel Puig was great, it was nothing compared to Nomomania, which was probably only surpassed by the popularity of Fernando Valenzuela when he burst onto the scene in 1981 among Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I am so happy and proud to learn of Hideo Nomo’s election to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame, he is truly a Hall of Famer,” said Tommy Lasorda in a press release. “When he came to the Dodgers in 1995, I remember taking him under my wing like a son and helping him with the transition. He was quite a pitcher and competitor, but he is also a very special and caring person. The Dodger fans loved him and it became the start of ‘Nomomania’ in Los Angeles and Japan. Hideo, on behalf of the Dodger organization, congratulations on this prestigious honor. We wish you and your wonderful family many happy and healthy years.”
Nomo went 123-109 with a 4.24 ERA, a 97 ERA+ and 1,918 strikeouts in parts of 12 seasons in the majors, including 81-66 with a 3.74 ERA (104 ERA+) in seven seasons with the Dodgers.
In Denver in 1996, Nomo pitched the only no-hitter ever at Coors Field and is one of five pitchers in MLB history with a no-hitter in each league, having also thrown one for the Red Sox in 2001.
"Congratulations, Hideo, I am very happy for you. You deserve this extraordinary recognition by the Baseball Hall of Fame," said former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley in a statement. "Ever since we first met in 1995, I have admired your professionalism and courage facing baseball’s finest hitters. Everyone in the Dodger organization respected you. You are a pioneer and have opened the door for others to follow you in Major League Baseball, well done."