This Day In Dodgers History: Hideo Nomo & Takashi Saito Signed To Contracts

On February 13, 1995, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed star Japanese pitcher Hideo Nomo to a Minor League contract that included a $2 million signing bonus.

The deal was made possible due to a loophole in the Japanese Uniform Players Contract that allowed Nomo to voluntarily retire and play for whomever he desired after returning to active status.

The right-hander had spent the previous five seasons with Nippon Professional Baseball’s Kintetsu Buffaloes before getting into a contract dispute with team management, which led to pursuing a Major League career.

Nomo made his U.S. professional debut with the High-A Bakersfield Blaze on April 27 and allowed two runs over 5.1 innings against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.

Nomo was called up to the Dodgers the following week for his first Major League start against the San Francisco Giants. He gave up just one hit over five scoreless frames and collected seven strikeouts.

That made Nomo the first Japanese-born pitcher to appear in an MLB game since Masanori Murakami pitched for the Giants in 1965.

It also marked the start of an All-Star season for the right-hander. He finished 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and led the National League with 236 strikeouts en route to Rookie of the Year honors.

Nomo went on to play in parts of seven seasons with the Dodgers over two separate stints, and also pitched for the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals.

Dodgers sign Takashi Saito to contract extension

Also on this day in Dodgers history, Takashi Saito was signed to a one-year, $2 million contract extension. The right-hander originally joined the team on a Minor League pact prior to the 2006 season after playing 14 seasons in the Japanese Central League with the Yokohama Bay Stars.

Saito enjoyed his best season with the Dodgers in 2007, when he went 2-1 with a 1.40 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 0.72 WHIP, 10.9 strikeouts per nine and 39 saves en route to All-Star honors.

Saito spent three seasons with the Dodgers before going on to play for the Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

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