Nomo nabs NL Rookie of Year

By Monty Phan

Arizona Daily Wildcat

After giving the major leagues perhaps its biggest boost of the season, Hideo Nomo got a little something back from baseball yesterday the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Nomo, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, edged Atlanta's Chipper Jones and became the first Japanese player to win a major U.S. baseball award.

"I appreciate all the fans, not only in Los Angeles but in Japan," Nomo said, through his interpreter Michael Okumura and during a conference call from Tokyo. "When I arrived in Tokyo there were so many people waiting for me."

Nomo, the fourth consecutive Dodger to win the award, received 18 first-place votes, nine seconds and one third for 118 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Jones had 10 first-place votes and 18 seconds for 104 points.

"He had a tough, tough assignment, coming into a league he knew nothing about," Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said. "He was in a glass case. He was under tremendous strain to accomplish what he did and I admire him."

In addition to the award, Nomo, 27, was the NL starter in the All-Star Game in July and posted a 13-6 record with a 2.54 ERA and a league-leading 236 strikeouts in 191 1-3 innings. He is the second Japanese to play in the majors, following Masanori Murakami in 1964. In Japan, he was a five-time all-star and 1990's top rookie.

Eric Karros, Mike Piazza and Raul Mondesi all preceded Nomo in winning the award, which 15 Dodgers in all have received, eight under Lasorda. The Dodgers also won four straight from 1979-82: Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Howe, Fernando Valenzuela and Steve Sax.

"I am very, very proud of what he has done," Lasorda said. "I expect him to be better next year than what he was this year."

Nomo said he hopes other Japanese players will follow.

"I proved to people that America has the opportunity to play baseball," he said. "If younger prospects want to come to America they should know they are welcome to follow me."

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