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MLB Japanese Players

MLB 日本人選手 (MLB Nihonjinsenshu)

A total of 53 Japanese-born players have played in at least one Major League Baseball (MLB) game. The first instance of a Japanese-born player playing in MLB occurred in 1964, when the Nankai Hawks, a Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) team, sent three exchange prospects to the United States to gain experience in MLB's Minor League system. One of the players, pitcher Masanori Murakami, was named the California League Rookie of the Year while playing for the Fresno Giants (the San Francisco Giants' Class-A team). Giants executives were impressed with this talent and on September 1, 1964 Murakami was promoted, thus becoming the first Japanese player to play in MLB. After Murakami put up good pitching statistics as a reliever, Giants executives sought to exercise a clause in their contract with the Hawks that, they claimed, allowed them to buy up an exchange prospect's contract. NPB officials objected, stating that they had no intention of selling Murakami's contract to the Giants and telling them that Murakami was merely on loan for the 1964 season. After a two-month stalemate the Giants eventually agreed to send Murakami back to the Hawks after the 1965 season. This affair led to the 1967 United States - Japanese Player Contract Agreement, also known as the "Working Agreement", between MLB and NPB, which was basically a hands-off policy. For thirty years Murakami was the only Japanese player to appear in an MLB game. Pitcher Hideo Nomo, with the help of agent Don Nomura, became the second Japanese-born player to play in MLB in 1995. Nomo, who was not yet eligible for free agency in Japan, was advised by Nomura that a "voluntary retirement" clause in the Working Agreement did not specify that a player wishing to play again after retiring must return to NPB. Nomo utilized this loophole to void his NPB contract with the Kintetsu Buffaloes and play in MLB. He announced his retirement from NPB in late 1994 and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 1995. Nomo's maneuver and Hideki Irabu's later MLB contractual complications were contributing factors to a major revision of the Working Agreement in 1998 that created the current posting system. Since its inception 11 Japanese-born players have been signed through the system, with Shinji Mori the only player not to have played due to injury. 2015 became the first season since Nomo's signing in 1995 where no new Japanese player has signed a contract with an MLB team. See "List of Major League Baseball players from Japan". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2015-04-03.

Ichiro Suzuki Mug Cup 2001 Mariners MLB Genuine Merchandise
New 2001 Ichiro Suzuki Mariners Upper Deck Play Makers Bobblehead & Rookie Card
Kazuhiro Sasaki Bobblehead Seattle Mariners SGA  (Stadium Givaway Sept 8, 2001)
2007 Seattle Mariners Kenji Johjima FSN Bobblehead SGA (Staduim Givaway)

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