Thursday, September 10, 2009

Murakami Paved Way For Nomo

Reading my copy of today's Daily Yomiuri, I found an interesting feature piece on Masanori Murakami, whose experience with the San Francisco Giants decades before the Dodgers' Hideo Nomo helped pave the way for future Japanese talent to cross the Atlantic:

If Masanori Murakami's father had had his way, Hideo Nomo would have been Japan's first major leaguer. Murakami made his debut on Sept. 1, 1964 for the San Francisco Giants in New York--30 years seven months and one day before Nomo first pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Yet, if Nippon Professional Baseball had learned its lessons from Murakami's accidental major league career, it might be managing the current exodus of its best players in a more orderly fashion.

"The Japanese style, I'm afraid to say, is to see what happens and think about it then," Murakami said last week.


The whole event should have taught NPB two lessons: 1) that Japanese players could compete in the majors, and 2) teams need to understand their contracts.

NPB learned neither and paid for it.

A loophole allowed Nomo to flee to the bigs in 1995, and his success created a new market for Japanese talent. Free agency, instituted here in the winter of 1993, allowed players to enter that market.

"Players have to make the most money they can and find the best place to play, and for many players, that's in the majors," Murakami said.