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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Forget Eli Broad - Here's Hideo Nomo!
2004-01-23 04:16
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Once again, I'm linking to an oddly written article about a Japanese ballplayer (scroll down if you click on the link):

TOKYO (AP) - Hideo Nomo is giving back to the system that allowed him to become one of the best pitchers on either side of the Pacific.

The Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher now has his own baseball team to go along with a long list of playing achievements, including his two no-hitters.

The Nomo Baseball Club will be based in his hometown of Osaka and begin play this spring in Japan's semipro league.

"If it wasn't for the opportunities I had when I was young, I have no idea what I'd be doing today," Nomo said Thursday at a news conference to introduce the team. "This is my way of contributing to the development of baseball."

Nomo, who joined the Dodgers in 1995 and was rookie of the year his first season, said he was inspired to lend his name to the team by the charitable efforts of his fellow major leaguers.

The article says that Nomo "has" his own team, which I originally took to mean that Nomo had purchased it or was sponsoring it. The phrase at the end of the article about "lending his name" gave me pause - maybe that was Nomo's only act of charity and no money changed hands. But no, he has to be paying the bills, right?

It occurs to me that this might be the biggest offseason move the Dodgers have made.

Update: Frank McCourt was in Osaka last year hoping to purchase the team and the surrounding metropolis, but was rejected by semipro league officials. A gag order prevents McCourt from commenting.

Real Update: Here is a more full account. I'm taking advantage of the blogging system and giving this story to you as I uncover it, rather than rewriting it so that the pertinent facts are prominent and the confusing and irrelevant facts are eliminated. Ain't that grand?

I'm also ignoring the revelation that this news came out in July, so it is not the biggest offseason move the Dodgers have made - although July wasn't much for Dan Evans to write home about either.

Anyway, the Japan Information Network wrote:

With the amount of support provided by companies to their corporate teams dwindling, amateur and semipro players face an increasingly tough situation. Hoping to give these players some encouragement, Nomo supplied the funds for the new team himself in what could be described as a gesture of putting something back into the world of baseball. ...

About 50 people, ranging from former pros to veterans of high-school baseball, took part in the tryouts held in April to select players for the team. The team chose 12 players, including trainees, and began practicing soon after. As it is a truly amateur team, the players receive no salaries. They earn their livings working in places like factories and gas stations by day and attend practices in the evenings. The team aims to start competing in official games from spring 2004, but the dream held by every player is to use the opportunity as a springboard to a professional career - just like Nomo did.

Final? Update "The Wall Street Journal had an article a couple of weeks ago about the decline of 'company' baseball teams and how some of those players were being signed by independent league teams in the U.S.," Bob Timmermann writes. "All part of the decline of the Japanese economy."

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