On this date in 1995, the Dodgers signed Hideo Nomo
The first Japanese-born MLB player, Masanori Murakami, played two seasons with the Giants in 1964 and '65 before moving back to his native country. Decades would pass before there would be another, but since it was Hideo Nomo, it might have been worth the wait.
The Dodgers signed the 26-year-old righty on this date in 1995, and in his first season with the team he broke Sandy Koufax's K/9 franchise record, posting an 11.1 to the famous lefty's 10.5. In his second, he did, in the words of Vin Scully, "what they said could not be done…not at Coors Field in Denver" :
Nicknamed "The Tornado" for his distinctive delivery, Nomo led the league in strikeouts twice, once with Los Angeles in 1995 and again with Boston in 2001. He also became the fourth pitcher in history to throw a no-hitter in both the NL and the AL when he blanked the Orioles for the first ever no-no at Camden Yards:
But Nomo wasn't only good at baseball. He was also amazing at friendship, as his bond with fellow Dodger Ismael Valdez proved:
Remind you of anyone?
Nomo opened the door for others to make the transition to MLB. When he made his debut in 1995, he was the only Japanese player in the league. When he retired in 2008, Ichiro was racking up hits in Seattle, Hideki Matsui was hitting grand slams for the Yankees and Hiroki Kuroda was introducing himself to L.A. He also paved the way for some incredible pop culture moments.
Why yes, that is an ode to Nomo written by EGOT winner Marvin Hamlisch and sung by voice of "Schoolhouse Rock" Jack Sheldon. And before you ask, of course there's an instrumental version so you can make this your lifelong ringtone.