Caple: Long before Shohei Ohtani and Ichiro, pitcher Masanori Murakami blazed a trail for Japanese major leaguers

From SABR member Jim Caple at The Athletic on May 10, 2018:

You’ve likely read/heard/seen a lot this season about the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, who is both a starting pitcher and hitter, the first player to regularly pull this off at a high level since Babe Ruth. And you certainly know about Ichiro, the future Hall of Famer with 3,089 career hits in the majors – plus another 1,278 in Japan. And Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Or the retired Hideki Matsui and Hideo Nomo, and many other Japanese baseball stars who have played in the U.S. major leagues.

But how much, if anything, do you know about Masanori Murakami, aka Mashi?

Murakami was the first Japanese player in MLB history, pitching for the Giants way back in late 1964 and then 1965. That was long enough ago that the next  Japanese player to arrive in the majors, Nomo, had not even been born.

“We didn’t know what kind of player he was back then, so not much about what he did here,’’ Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma said.

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Originally published: May 11, 2018. Last Updated: May 11, 2018.