Japanese baseball fans react to Iwakuma’s no-hitter
Seattle Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma’s feat of becoming the second Japaneseborn pitcher after Hideo Nomo to throw a no- hitter in the U. S. major leagues was splashed on the home pages of sports newspapers and other media websites in his home country, greeting people as they were waking up Thursday.
“I wakuma achieves nohit, no- run! Second Japanese pitcher after Nomo in ’ 01,” the headline of the lead story on the Sports Nippon newspaper website read.
Japanese baseball fans keenly follow their players in the U. S. major leagues, and game highlights of their exploits are a staple of sports news broadcasts, and reported in the sports pages of newspapers.
The reaction is a bit more muted, though, after two decades of Japanese stars heading to the U. S.
“The nation went berserk when Nomo threw his two no- hitters,” said Robert Whiting, the author of “You Gotta Have Wa,” a book about foreign baseball players in Japan. “Now, it’s been there done that.”
Iwakuma said through an interpreter after the fourth nohitter in the major leagues this season that he couldn’t find the right words to describe his feelings. “I’m truly happy,” he said. Iwakuma became the first American League pitcher in nearly three years to throw a no- hitter, silencing the Balti- more Orioles in the Mariners’ 3- 0 victory on Wednesday.
Iwakuma’s father- in- law, who used to coach on the pitcher’s team in Japan, the Rakuten Eagles, was at the game.
“I was excited to see ( fans) cheering with a standing ovation and getting ecstatic each time he pitched in the last half of the game,” Koju Hirohashi said in a statement issued by the team. “Also, I was happy to be able to watch such a game in person. At the beginning, I felt his pitching was a bit rough, but powerful. His fastball and slider were good. I hope he will continue playing without any injuries.”
Talented but often injured since arriving from Japan in 2012, the 34- year- old Iwakuma, a native of Tokyo, didn’t overpower the Orioles.
Instead, Iwakuma smartly used a biting splitter and precise control to throw the fourth individual no- hitter in franchise history and become the oldest pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2004 to throw a no- no.