Japan's Tornado takes US by storm
Sunday 16 July 1995
In the last six months, Hideo "Tornado" Nomo, 26, has been entrusted not only with saving baseball the way Babe Ruth did in the Twenties, but also restoring Japan's self-regard after a year of cult attacks, the Kobe earthquake, economic slump, trade disputes and rows over the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
"I've never seen anything like this in my life," says Don Nomura, Nomo's agent. "Whenever he pitches, it's like everybody in Japan stops what they're doing. He's become the Michael Jordan of our country."
Nomo is the first Japanese to play in American major league baseball in 30 years. His 6-1 win-loss record and fantastic run average, slaying every US baseball star with his baffling 90mph pitches, have made him the toast of the US and Japan.
In Japan he has become the quintessential local boy made good. Not only has he been entrusted with restoring Japan's image, but he has become a romantic symbol, countering the national Japanese stereotype for social conformism and compliance to the strictures of corporate Japanese life - a youth who threw away a safe career to pursue a dream.
In the US the sport is in desperate need of a boost: a year-long dispute between players and major league owners paralysed the game, and viewing figures are down 25 per cent since last year.
Nomo, with almost no English, is lionised as a celebrity player at home and was recently selected to play in the All-Star game, a mid-season championship of top players which has not invited a rookie pitcher to play in 15 years.
"The most famous Japanese in America is neither the Prime Minister, Tomiichi Murayama, nor the Minister for International Trade. It is the pitcher, Tornado Nomo,who is building up a mountain of strikeouts with his fork ball," said one Japanese commentator.
Now the Japanese , even those who don't know anything about baseball, are getting up early to watch satellite broadcasts at shopping malls. So enamoured are they that a leading insurance firm has offered Nomo a million- dollar advertising contract and travel agencies have started $1,600 (pounds 1,000) "Nomo Tours" to Los Angeles that include tickets to a Dodgers game.
"It's so fantastic, so stunning, so beautiful," says one overwrought commentator for Sports Nippon. "Men like me are so proud of Nomo and what he's doing for our country. You talk to women now and they say: 'I didn't know Nomo was so cute'."
The singer Susan Boyle has revealed for the first time that she has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.
It’s the moment someone, somewhere was waiting for
food + drinkMichelin-starred Tom Sellers on being this year's hottest property
tvParents (and kids) rejoice! A new wave of fantastic family entertainment is here
booksGeese, gorillas, grandads... and growing up
food + drinkHow one grocery e-tailer is gearing up for the Yuletide rush
food + drink
travelFor broadcaster Mishal Husain, a long-haul Club Med holiday was a chance for her family to explore its sense of 'zen' and 'animation'
Nelson Mandela: 11 inspirational quotes to live your life by
Queen to miss Nelson Mandela funeral over security and long-haul flight concerns
MPs face public anger after watchdog approves 'inappropriate' 11% pay rise
The 'terrorist' and the Tories: What did Nelson Mandela really think of Margaret Thatcher?
Japan cracks down on leaks after scandal of Fukushima nuclear power plant
- 1 Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
- 2 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 3 Why Barcelona chose Everton to educate their latest prodigy
- 4 Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis
- 5 Japan cracks down on leaks after scandal of Fukushima nuclear power plant
- < Previous
- Next >
£23999 - £32001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: An independent ac...
£50000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# WPF Developer (WinF...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: QA Tester Automation R...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Data Management & ...