Red Sox pitcher Hideo Nomo
Hideo Nomo was the first of a wave of talent coming over from Japan and he broke into the league in a big way. As a rookie in 1995 he lead the majors in strikeouts, earning the NL rookie of the year award and fourth place in Cy Young voting.
His sophomore campaign, which included a no-hitter, was stellar as well, ending with another fourth place Cy Young finish. He struggled over the next few seasons, posting a worse-than league average ERA. He was traded and released several times and eventually signed with Boston in 2001 on a one year deal.
Nomo’s signing was overshadowed by another free agency acquisition the Red Sox made that week as they signed Cleveland Indians outfielder, Manny Ramirez, to an 8-year, $160 million contract, the second largest in baseball history at the time.
Nomo’s time in Boston was a microcosm for his whole career to that point. He came in hot, twirling the second no-hitter of his career on his debut for the team. He issued just three walks and struck out 11 against the Orioles on Opening Day 2001.
Unfortunately, there was only room to go down from there after his masterful debut. He did go on to lead the league in strikeouts for the second time in his career, but also lead the league in walks. His 4.54 ERA and inconsistency on the mound led the Red Sox to move on and elect not to re-sign Nomo for the following season. Nomo returned to the Dodgers where he found some success, before battling injuries and ultimately retiring in 2008.