No mo' Nomo
Hideo Nomo, who pitched a pair of no-hitters and led a rush of Japanese players to the major leagues, is finished.
Nomo announced his retirement Thursday, agent Don Nomura said. Once known for a deceptive delivery and a devastating forkball, the 39-year-old Nomo was released by the Kansas City Royals in late April.
Nomo's 123 wins are the most in the majors by a Japanese pitcher. He was the 1995 NL Rookie of the Year with the Los Angeles Dodgers and is one of only four pitchers to throw no-hitters in the AL and NL.
It was one of the fiercest wind-ups many have ever seen. And it's a good chance there is a forkball on the other side of it that is guaranteed to buckle the knees of even the most seasoned veterans. And it was a big reason he notched two no-hitters in his career in the MLB. The first took place at Coors Field as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers (1996, versus Colorado Rockies); the same Coors Field that yielded more home runs than any other ballpark in Major League Baseball due to its small size and Denver's atmospheric conditions. It almost sounded impossible that anyone could throw a no-hitter in Denver. Heck, it was hard enough leaving Coors Field without giving up a homerun in a game, let alone a hit. Just the same, Nomo did it.
His second no-hitter came in 2001 when he was with the Boston Red Sox. In dramatic fashion, he wasted no time notching his second career "no-no" in his first appearance as a member of the Red Sox (at Camden Yard versus Baltimore Orioles). As a result of this feat, he became only the 4th pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter in both the American League and National League. Some impressive names are on this list: Cy Young, Jim Bunning and Nolan Ryan -- all of them are absolute legends and all are members of the MLB Hall of Fame. So what is in store for Nomo when his name is eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot in 2013?
It's very early to start talking about his legacy and his chances of being enshrined in Cooperstown, but his career numbers (123-109, 4.24, 1,918 Ks) are not the caliber of a Hall of Famer. His post-season numbers are down-right awful with a 0-2 record and 10.38 ERA in only two post-season appearances (Source: Baseball-Reference.com). He has two no-hitters to his credit, but his statistics just will not earn him the votes he needs to be in Cooperstown. That aside, he was electric on the mound and he was the trailblazer for so many other Janapese players to join Major League Baseball.
Following Nomo's success, many more Japanese players came to the majors. Hideki Irabu, Shigetoshi Hasegawa and Tomo Ohka were among those who quickly followed, with Ichiro Suzuki, Kazuhiro Sasaki and Hideki Matsui arriving later.
Enjoy retirement, Mr. Nomo. You've earned it.