His career was brief and he appeared on only one baseball card, but Masnori Murakami will always have a place in baseball history as the first Japanese born player to appear in the major leagues.
Now, Murakami is returning to the U.S. for a nine city tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first full season here and the publication of his biography, Mashi.
Rob Fitts, a Japanese baseball expert and the author of the book, is arranging the tour, which will include stops at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, as well as on the west coast.
Murakami, who signed with the San Francisco Giants at age 20 and appeared on this San Francisco Giants Rookie Stars card in the 1965 Topps set, is now 71 years old. He returned to make appearances for the Giants in recent years.
“It will be a great opportunity for fans and collectors to meet him and gain a rare autograph,” Fitts told Sports Collectors Daily.
Murakami debuted in September 1964 and pitched well for the Giants, who wanted to keep him despite an order by his Japanese club to return him. Finally, it was decided he’d pitch one more season in San Francisco before returning home to the Nankai Hawks. His big league record in 54 games was 5–1, with nine saves and a 3.43 ERA. He pitched 17 more seasons in Japanese baseball.
Copies of Murakami’s book will be signed for free during the tour, while other items will cost $25.
The tour schedule is as follows:
June 27: Chicago, SABR National Convention, Palmer House Hotel 4 PM
June 29: Boston, Japan Society & SABR, Royal Rooters Club at Fenway Park 7 PM
June 30: Manhattan, Barnes & Noble 86th St 7 PM
July 1: Manhattan, Bergino Baseball Clubhouse 7 PM
July 3: Rhinebeck NY, Oblong Books 7 PM
July 4: Cooperstown NY, National Baseball Hall of Fame 1 PM
July 6: Los Angeles, Japan America Society of Southern California TBA
July 7: Whittier, CA, Whittier College 7 PM
July 8: Fresno, Fresno Buddhist Temple 6 PM
July 9: San Francisco, San Francisco Public Library 6:00 PM
July 10: San Francisco, Kinokuniya 10:30 AM
July 11: San Jose, San Jose Public Library 1 PM
July 11: San Jose, Nikkei Traditions 5 PM