If you didn’t know, the 2019 season kicks off Wednesday morning at 2:30 am Pacific when the Mariners and A’s meet in Japan’s Tokyo Dome. Yusei Kikuchi will start the second game of the two-game series for the Mariners, but more importantly, 45-year old Ichiro will be in the lineup for them. Most importantly, former Giant Masanori Murakami — who in 1964 became the first Japanese player to play in Major League Baseball — threw out the first pitch in yesterday’s exhibition between the A’s and the Nippon-Ham Fighters.
Murakami claims he brought his own uniform to participate in the ceremony:
Masanori Murakami, 74, threw out the ceremonial 1st pitch at A’s-Nippon Ham Fighters game. As #SFGiants reliever in ‘64, he was first Japanese player to play for MLB team. His quote tonight: pic.twitter.com/llnlCnfD6n— Daniel Brown (@BrownieAthletic) March 17, 2019
He pitched only two seasons in the majors, 1964 and 1965, but not because he wasn’t talented. After returning to Japan after his age-21 season, the lefty reliever pitched 17 more seasons. He’s been sort of a footnote in team history, and that feels like an oversight.
This 2015 profile in Time talks a lot more about why Murakami only pitched two seasons in the United States, but here’s the part I zeroed in on:
Mashi (as his teammates called him) was only on the mound for one inning in the Giants’ 4-1 loss, but he so impressed the team with his control and efficiency that he remained on the roster for the rest of the season. He was also an immediate fan favorite, with Mashi Mania spreading across the Bay Area.
The Giants celebrated the 50th anniversary of his debut back in 2014, which included this bobblehead giveaway.
The Giants being a part of major league history that doesn’t involve performance-enhancing drugs is always a refreshing reminder of some of the cool stuff that can happen with baseball. And on that note — this year’s Japan Series has given us this new view... which the MLB main account is supporting?
Smash that RT button!