VERO BEACH, Fla. – Now a founding partner of Historic Dodgertown, Hideo Nomo has returned to visit the facility fresh off his election into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame.
Nomo partnered with former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley, his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler and former teammate Chan Ho Park in managing Historic Dodgertown in 2012.
On Jan. 17, Nomo became just the third player to be voted into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, joining Sadaharu Oh and Victor Starffin. He also is the youngest player (45 and 4 months) in Japan’s history to ever to receive induction. He pitched four seasons in the Nippon Professional League, earning 17 or 18 victories each season.
O’Malley, a long-time force in the growth of international baseball, signed free agent Nomo on Feb. 13, 1995, making him the first Japan-born player to permanently relocate to the U.S. and Major League Baseball. “Nomomania” soon ensued as he led the league in strikeouts, finished second in ERA and started the All-Star Game while winning the National League Rookie of the Year.
He would go on to be one of only five men to throw a no-hitter in both the National and American Leagues. His no-no’s are also the only to be thrown at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies and Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles.
When asked about Historic Dodgertown’s influence on his career, Nomo said, “This was the very first place that I was exposed to the Major Leagues upon joining the Dodgers. Baseball was my life, it was everything to me at that time and I was so inspired to perform well because I felt the history and the atmosphere. Historic Dodgertown was very important because much of my career was with the Dodgers, and with people like Peter O’Malley and Tommy Lasorda.”
On a day that included high school and college baseball, along with a junior college women’s softball tournament during his walking tour, Nomo hoped these young athletes take in the experience of playing at Historic Dodgertown. “I wish for this to be a place where people can come back to see both what it was and also what it is now,” he said. “To preserve the history of a place that was home to people like Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax is special, and I hope kids can feel the nostalgia while also creating new memories for themselves.”
Nomo finished with 123 victories in the Major Leagues, which was preceded by 78 wins in the Nippon Professional League. A hero in Japan, he opened the door to more than 40 players from Japan playing in Major League Baseball, including Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.
Historic Dodgertown is a multi-sport, 80-acre complex on Florida’s Treasure Coast. The home of Dodger spring trainings from 1948-2008, it was the starting place for six World Championships and 14 N.L. pennant-winning teams. Numerous Baseball Hall of Fame players trained on these hallowed grounds, as well as 20 visits from professional teams in Asia.
The all-inclusive facility, owned by Indian River County, gives teams of all ages the unique opportunity to train, play, dine and stay together in on-site villas. Participants utilize one of 1 ½ playing fields (seven are Musco-lighted for night games), including a new cloverleaf of youth baseball/softball fields with concessions area and new multi-purpose field (110 by 150 yards) for football, soccer and lacrosse.
Other amenities include clubhouses, two full-sized weight rooms, dining room, Stadium Club lounge and a competition-size swimming pool. The home of 6,500-seat Holman Stadium, Historic Dodgertown provides an all-encompassing experience for guests and is the ideal setting to build a championship team through tournaments, camps, schools, business conferences and seminars. Visit http://historicdodgertown.com for more information.