How MLB’s First Japanese Player Made it to Big Leagues

On September 1, 1964, San Francisco Giants pitcher Masanori “Mashi” Murakami became the first player of Japanese descent to participate in a Major League Baseball game. But a dispute between the pioneer’s Japanese team and the Giants after their historic season effectively shut the door on majors for players from their home country for nearly three decades.

Still, Murakami had a significant impact on the game in just two seasons in the big leagues, says Robert K. Fitts, author of Mashi: The unfulfilled baseball dreams of Masanori Murakami, the first player in the Japanese major league.

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