FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 02, 2015
ON THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS FIRST DAY AT DODGERTOWN, NOMO HAS MANY FOND MEMORIES
VERO BEACH, Fla. –Hideo Nomo, pioneer pitcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers, recalls his first Spring Training as a Dodger on the 20th Anniversary of his first day in uniform – March 3, 1995 – at Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida.
Nomo remembers his Dodgertown arrival, which included significant fanfare from the awaiting media, both domestic and from Japan, after signing as a free agent with the Dodgers on February 13, 1995.
“On the eve prior to the start of Spring Training in March of 1995, I arrived in Dodgertown for the first time,” Nomo said. “As it was dark, all I could see were the baseball fields and lodging facilities. I thought to myself ‘there is nothing to do here except to play baseball.’
“I did not know how they practiced in the U.S. I did not know anything about the culture and if I might do or say something that might offend people. All of my anxiety and concerns were put to ease by a staff led by my manager, Tommy Lasorda. Everyone would check up on me daily to make sure that I was comfortable and they always asked me if I needed anything. At that time, I could not speak English at all and I did not even know how to greet people, but I could really feel the kindness of everyone around me.”
“I arrived at the Dodgers coming off of a shoulder injury. During the month of Spring Training, the staff helped me rehabilitate my shoulder while having a trainer at my side daily. By the end of Spring Training, I was back on the mound pitching to my satisfaction. That experience has become a valuable life lesson for me, as I am now in a position where I am coaching and teaching young players.
“Every day after practice, (Dodger President) Mr. Peter O’Malley would sit down with me and ask how things were going and if everything was OK. Without his kindness, I would have emotionally struggled through Spring Training. I am still so grateful to Mr. O’Malley for the kindness and care that he gave me. I remember at the end of Spring Training, Mr. O’Malley would host a family barbeque party where there was a merry-go-round and animals. It felt like an amusement park. That atmosphere was one that I had never experienced in my life and, most importantly, that was the moment that it felt like the ‘Dodgers’.
“That was 20 years ago and every experience was new and, although I had feelings of anxiety, I am able to look back at the great memories and share them and genuinely say from the bottom of my heart that I am so glad that I chose to become a Dodger.”
On July 18, 2014, Nomo was inducted into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame as the youngest player elected (45 years, 4 months) and he was just the third player to be elected in his first year on the ballot.
Nomo was the first player from Japan to sign with a major league club since Masanori Murakami pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 1964-65. While Murakami returned to Japan’s Professional League, Nomo stayed in America, pitching 12 seasons. That followed his Hall of Fame career in Japan with the Kintetsu Buffaloes, where he won 78 games. After training at Dodgertown in 1995, Nomo lived up to his “Warrior” nickname, as he was named the National League starting pitcher at the All-Star Game in Texas and was later honored as 1995 N.L. Rookie of the Year. “Nomomania” soared throughout the U.S. and Japan.
Nomo is just one of five pitchers in baseball history to throw a no-hitter in the American and National Leagues. Twice he led the league in strikeouts – with 236 in the N.L. for the 1995 Dodgers and with 220 in the American League for the 2001 Boston Red Sox. Since his arrival 20 years ago with the Dodgers, Nomo opened the doors for more than 50 more players from Japan to play in Major League Baseball through the 2014 season.
Nomo is a founding partner of Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, along with Peter O’Malley, Terry O’Malley Seidler and former Dodger teammate Chan Ho Park. Nomo currently leads an industrial league team in the Osaka region of Japan, called “Nomo Baseball Club,” which gives non-drafted players (semi-professional) an opportunity to compete.
About Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida
“A Florida Heritage Landmark”
World-famous Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida is a multi-sport, 80-acre complex on Florida’s Treasure Coast managed by former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley in a partnership since 2012. O’Malley, whose family developed and expanded the site formerly known as “Dodgertown” for nearly 50 years, partnered with his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler and former Dodger star pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo.
On November 10, 2014, Historic Dodgertown was named a Florida Heritage Landmark for its unique historic significance extending beyond baseball, as the first completely integrated Spring Training site in the South. The “Baseball and Dodgertown” historical marker is located at the entrance to the conference center.
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 10 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 130 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 – Vero Beach, Florida provides an all-encompassing experience for guests and is the ideal setting to build a championship team. It’s the perfect location for tournaments, camps, schools, business conferences and seminars.
Continuing its tradition since 1983, the Los Angeles Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp returned to Historic Dodgertown in November, 2014. Visit historicdodgertown.com for more information.
Ruth Ruiz, Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida, (772) 257-8532