February 13th isn’t just the day before Valentine’s Day. It’s also the day in which the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Japanese right-hander Hideo Nomo. That signing came all the way back in 1995. The talented Nomo went on to have a good career in blue, and elsewhere.
In his time in Los Angeles, Nomo spent seven seasons with the Dodgers and racked up 81 wins and a 3.74 ERA while striking out 1200 batters in 1217 innings. In total, Nomo finished his career with 123 wins, 1918 strikeouts, and a 4.24 ERA in 1976.1 innings.
Nomo’s career, especially early on, was quite impactful. During his rookie season, the native of Oaska, Japan finished with a 13-6 record, 2.54 ERA, and league-high 236 strikeouts en route to capturing the 1995 Rookie of the Year Award, as well as finishing 4th in Cy Young voting.
In 1996, Nomo finished 4th in the Cy Young voting again while finishing with a 16-11 record, 3.19 ERA, and 234 strikeouts in 228.1 innings. Eventually, in 1998, the Dodgers traded Nomo to the New York Mets for Dave Mlicki and Greg McMichael.
Nomo will perhaps best be remembered for his “tornado windup” and the way that it fooled batters like never before. Even though hitters eventually started to figure the delivery out, Nomo changed the game a lot more than people truly realize.
The success that Nomo attained in the United States after a career in Japan led to an influx of talent from that corner of the globe. Players such as Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Hideki Matsui followed in his footsteps. He was a true ambassador of the game.
In 1996, Nomo won the ESPY for Breakthrough Athlete, and he was the youngest player elected into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame when he went in there in 2014.
To this day, Nomo still holds the only no-hitters thrown at Coors Field (Colorado) and Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore), and he’s still just one of five pitchers to have a no-hitter in both the American League and National League.
So, on this day 21 years ago, the Dodgers signed a tornado and watched him blossom into an icon that transcended the sport.