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Hideo Nomo, Kazuhiro Sasaki elected to Japan’s Baseball Hall of Fame

Jan 17, 2014, 7:55 AM EDT

Hideo Nomo AP

Hiedo Nomo may have only received six votes for the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame, but the Japan Times reports that he is a first-ballot inductee to Japan’s Hall of Fame. Joining him is fellow-former U.S. big leaguer Kazuhiro Sasaki and outfielder Koji Akiyama.

Being a first-ballot inductee is quite rare in Japan. Nomo becomes only the third player in history to do it. The other two were Sadaharu Oh and Victor Starffin. Everyone knows who Oh is, but I had no idea who Victor Starffin was until a few minutes ago. I Googled him because, obviously, it’s not a Japanese name. He has a pretty neat story that you should go read. If you don’t bother, at least know that he was Japan’s first 300-game winner.

Anyway, congratulations Hideo Nomo, Kaz Sasaki and Koji Akiyama.

  1. rje49 - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    The article about Starffin is really interesting. I didn’t know baseball was played in Japan before the end of WW2, and was surprised to see that they played during the war. I thought baseball was introduced in Japan after the war. You learn something new everyday!

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      Baseball has been played in Japan since the 1870s, believe it or not. As the poster below me said, there was a barnstorm tour in the 1930s. The NPB has been around in one form or another since the 1920s. It is just as much Japan’s national game as it is America’s!

  2. xdj511 - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    Baseball was hugely popular in Japan before WWII. There was a barnstorming tour there in 1934 with the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, etc. Included was a journeyman catcher named Moe Berg. He was included partly because he spoke flawless Japanese. He was also rumored to be an American spy who took secret video of the Tokyo skyline that was instrumental in the allied bombing campaign later in the war.

    If we’re going to spend the day reading up on obscure names… be sure to look him up.

    • themuddychicken - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      Speaking of Moe Berg, I’ve been meaning to read “The Catcher Was a Spy” for a while now. Now that I’m reminded, I’ll have to go pick it up. It looks fascinating.

    • yahmule - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      Babe destroyed all the souvenirs and gifts he got from his trip to Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

  3. yahmule - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    Nomo was fun to watch when he first came to the United States. I always liked watching Kaz Sasaki. He used to get as excited as a little leaguer after recording a save.

  4. natstowngreg - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Congrats.

    I can pretty much guarantee the following pointless but entertaining debates among voters for two Halls of Fame, when Ichiro Suzuki becomes eligible. Should Ichiro be a unanimous Japanese Hall of Famer? Was Sadaharu Oh a unanimous choice? Should Ichiro be a first-ballot American Hall of Famer? It appears, from the article, that the Japanese voters considered MLB performance; should American HOF voters consider Japanese performance? If so, what about Hideki Matsui? These issues will be debated, often with more heat than light, on this here blog right here.

    I actually remember having a Masanori Murakami baseball card. He pitched in the Giants’ bullpen in 1964-1965. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/murakma01.shtml
    [Baseball-Reference.com has his Japanese Leagues stats. Just further evidence that Baseball-Reference.com is one of the great innovations in human history.)

  5. asimonetti88 - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Kazuhiro Sasaki was a great pitcher for the Mariners for several years! Congratulations to him.

  6. NYTolstoy - Jan 17, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Always loved Hideo Nomo. I remember being little and seeing him square up a home run in a game. I Almost died of excitement.

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