Why Hideo Nomo Represents the True Ideal of the Baseball Hall of Fame

Jack Moore

Hideo Nomo, the first Japanese-born pitcher to come to the Major Leagues from the Japanese pro ranks, dropped off the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot Wednesday. If the Hall of Fame is truly committed to preserving history, honoring excellence and connecting generations, Nomo deserves enshrinement.

Published January 9 at 12:09 am

Throughout the debate surrounding the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame elections — mercifully over Wednesday, as the Baseball Writers Association of America voted to add Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas to the Hall — I think at least one key question was buried. It’s a simple one: Why does the Hall of Fame exist?

Or, to frame it another way, what purpose is the Hall of Fame supposed to serve? The Hall answers this question for us, luckily. Just head over to their website  and there it is in the upper right corner: Preserving History. Honoring Excellence. Connecting Generations. These are high standards, worthwhile standards, and a museum honoring baseball’s major figures should do all it can to uphold them.

The Hall of Fame should not be a means of punishment, as so many BBWAA voting members have made it over the last few years, whether over performance enhancing drugs, attitude problems, or simply vindictiveness. The Hall of Fame should be a celebration of those who enthralled us with their greatness, and it should be a celebration of those who changed the game, those whose impact can still be felt today, long after their…

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Jack uses Beacon to tell stories about American sports, particularly baseball and basketball. He focuses beyond the box score, exploring the why and how of sports. You’ll get stories about how sporting culture interacts with American culture, and you’ll learn about the people who play the game and the people who love it.

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And as such, it is disappointing to see Hideo Nomo, the first Japanese-born pitcher to jump from the Japanese professional ranks to the majors, received only six votes. With only 1.1 percent of the vote from the BBWAA voting pool, Nomo fell well short of the five percent necessary to remain for the 2015 ballot. Barring an unlikely induction from the Veteran’s Committee, there will be no Hideo Nomo bust in Cooperstown. It’s a shame, not because he was one of the greatest players in history — he wasn’t, although he had a lengthy and productive major league career despite spending half of his 20s pitching in Japan. It’s a shame because of the players currently on the ballot, it’s tough to argue any had a larger individual impact than Nomo.