Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hideo Nomo Retires...

That's all for veteran pitcher Hideo Nomo (or, in Japan, Nomo Hideo). The 39-year-old just announced his retirement from the Kansas City Royals. Winning the 1995 National League Rookie of the Year when he debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Nomo proved that Japanese ballplayers could compete at the highest level in the American major leagues. Employing a unique tornado-twist delivery throughout his career, he pitched 2 historical no-hitters. His first was not only the first for a Japanese pitcher in MLB, but also the first at Coors Field, and his second was the first at Camden Yards.

Nomo paved the way for stars like Suzuki "No Nickname" Ichiro and Matsui "Godzilla" Hideki, plus an influx of top-notch baseball talent from Japan and Korea. Just as African-American and Latin American ballplayers reinvigorated the sport and rewrote the record books before them, Asian players create excitement and increase diversity in our venerable game. It may not be America's pastime anymore, and soccer may be the world's favorite sport, but I'm happy baseball is becoming truly international at last.

Any movement that raises the level of play in my favorite sport or adds interest is welcome. So a tip of the cap to Nomo Hideo, big thanks... and good luck to you!

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