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'."
- 1 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 2 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 3 Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses, study says
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...