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Sports Year
Sports Year
  1. Baseball and US-Japan Relations
  2. Major League Baseball’s Japanese Players
  3. Sumo, the Hawaiian-American Connection
  4. Japanese Martial Arts in the United States
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Masanori Murakami played with the San Francisso Giants during the 1960s.
Image from Baseball's Best.
Major League Baseball’s Japanese Players
The first Japanese player to play in the American major leagues was Masanori Murakami, who pitched for two seasons for the San Francisco Giants in the mid 1960s. Over the years, other professional baseball players from Japan tried to enter the major leagues, but it was not until pitcher Hideo Nomo was tapped for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 that someone followed in Murakami’s footsteps. Nomo’s games were televised live in Japan via satellite TV. He amazed serious fans and even casual viewers in Japan with his accomplishments as a major league player. His success encouraged a new wave of Japanese ballplayers to take a chance at trying out for American major league baseball. Now many baseball teams boast Japanese star players. Two outstanding examples are Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners and Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees, both of whom enjoy huge success and popularity in both Japan and the United States. As a result, more Japanese baseball fans than ever before follow major league games in the United States.
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