Before there was Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka, there was Hideo Nomo. The right-hander was a pioneer for Japanese baseball players by becoming the first to permanently relocate to MLB.
On this date in 1995, Nomo made his big league debut with the Dodgers. He started the season in the minors due to the ongoing players' strike. Nomo struck out seven Giants in five scoreless innings at Candlestick Park, allowing just one hit and four walks. Here's a CNN feature on his debut:
Nomo was one of the best pitchers in Japan and he had to exploit a loophole to come to MLB. Contract talks with his former team, the Kintetsu Buffaloes, fell apart, so Nomo effectively "retired" from Japanese baseball. That allowed him to become a free agent and sign with the Dodgers.
In his first season, the then-26-year-old Nomo went 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA and a league-leading 236 strikeouts. He started the All-Star Game and was named the NL Rookie of the Year. He also finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting. Nomo went 123-109 with a 4.24 ERA in parts of 12 big league seasons with the Dodgers (two stints), Mets, Brewers, Tigers, Red Sox, Devil Rays and Royals. He also threw two no-hitters.
Nomo's wild tornado wind-up and overall strikeout dominance made him one of the most exciting and fun pitchers in baseball, especially early in his career. Just watch this:
He was a phenom. A phenom who helped change the history of the game by leaving the game in Japan and coming over to the major leagues.