Masanori Murakami Signed San Francisco Giants Card
Baseball is a romantic game that lends itself to tradition and hero worship. The game’s many pioneers and legends are immortalized in halls of fame, books, and films. However, the tale of Masanori Murakami, the first Japanese MLB player, is not known well enough. Murakami’s story is one of adventure, under-the-table dealings, international conflict, and thrilling moments on the playing field.
When “Mashi” debuted for the San Francisco Giants in 1964, the 20-year-old lefty didn’t speak English or have a dedicated interpreter, which helped him ignore the racist taunts directed at him. He pitched well for the Giants, convincing them that he would be a steady contributor to their pitching staff. However, the Nankai Hawks, Murakami’s original team in Japan, felt that their young prospect was being stolen from them. Murakami became the focal point of a tug-of-war not just between the Hawks and the Giants but also between MLB and NPB. Murakami reluctantly returned to Japan, and the icy relations between the two leagues created a freeze of players coming from Japan to the U.S. until another brave, young hurler crossed the Pacific 30+ years later: Hideo Nomo.