Year
1964
Month Day
September 01

First Japanese player makes MLB debut

On September 1, 1964, pitcher Masanori Murakami becomes the first Japanese man to play in U.S. baseball’s major leagues. Murakami pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the San Francisco Giants in a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets in front of 39,379 fans at Shea Stadium.

Murakami was a teenage baseball prodigy in Japan. In 1962, he signed with Nippon Professional Baseball’s Nankai Hawks while still in high school. After pitching a year in the minors, Murakami made his major league debut with the Hawks at just 19 years old. In 1964, the Hawks sent Murakami to the United States to pitch in the minor leagues for the San Francisco Giants as part of an exchange program. Murakami’s left-handed sidearm delivery proved an asset in the United States, where deceptive pitching still isn’t as common as in Japan. Murakami began his American career with an 11-7 record as a reliever with Fresno in the Class A California League. On September 1, he was ordered to report to the bigs and handed a plane ticket to New York. After arrival, he quickly signed a contract (explained by an interpreter since he spoke no English) and then headed to the bullpen.

Murakami’s arrival came just as the Giants, including star outfielders Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, was chasing the Philadelphia Phillies for the National League pennant. Meanwhile, the Mets, the Giants’ opponent on September 1, were in the midst of the third losing season in their three-year history. Murakami entered the game in relief in the eighth inning, and began with a strikeout of Met leftfielder Charlie Smith, before yielding a single to Chris Cannizaro. He then settled down, and struck out first baseman Ed Kranepool and shortstop Billy McMillan consecutively to complete his first inning in the major leagues. The Mets, however, proved a difficult opponent: Pitcher Al Jackson pitched a complete game, giving up just six hits and one walk to lead the Mets to a 4-1 victory.

In the end, Murakami’s first year in the majors proved a rousing success, with nine appearances and a 1.80 ERA, good for a 1-0 record with one save. After the 1964 season the Nankai Hawks asked Murakami to return to Japan, but the Giants refused on the grounds they had Murakami under contract. The Japanese baseball commissioner intervened, negotiating a compromise. Murakami spent 1965 with the Giants, going 4-1 with a 3.75 ERA and eight saves in 45 relief appearances. In 1966, he returned to Japan, where he went on to pitch for another 18 seasons.

The next Japanese player to join Major League Baseball was pitcher Hideo Nomo, who made his debut in 1995, more than 30 years after the trailblazing Masanori Murakami.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

First Muslim holiday U.S. postage stamp is issued

Five years of lobbying comes to fruition on September 1, 2001, as the U.S. Postal Service releases the first American stamp celebrating Muslim holidays. A blue stamp featuring gold calligraphy celebrating Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, along with the English words “EID GREETINGS,” ...read more

Pittsburgh Pirates field MLB's first all-Black lineup

On September 1, 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates field the first all-Black lineup in Major League Baseball history in the team's 10-7 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The history-making event receives zero coverage in Pittsburgh two major newspapers—both were on strike—and is ...read more

This Day In History: Bobby Fischer becomes the first American to win the World Chess Championship

Bobby Fischer becomes the first American to win the World Chess Championship

On September 1, 1972, in what’s billed as the “Match of the Century,” American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer defeats Russian Boris Spassky during the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland. In the world’s most publicized title match ever played, Fischer, a 29-year-old ...read more

Wreck of the Titanic found

Seventy-three years after it sank to the North Atlantic ocean floor, a joint U.S.-French expedition locates the wreck of the RMS Titanic. The sunken liner was about 400 miles east of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic, some 13,000 feet below the surface. READ MORE: Why Did the ...read more

Chechen separatists storm Russian school

On September 1, 2004, an armed gang of Chechen separatist rebels enters a school in southern Russia and takes more than 1,000 people hostage. The rebels demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from the disputed nearby region of Chechnya. September 1 was the first day of a new ...read more

Qaddafi leads coup in Libya

Muammar al-Qaddafi, a 27-year-old Libyan army captain, leads a successful military coup against King Idris I of Libya. Idris was deposed and Qaddafi was named chairman of Libya’s new governing body, the Revolutionary Command Council. Qaddafi was born in a tent in the Libyan ...read more

Aaron Burr acquitted of treason

Former U.S. vice president Aaron Burr is acquitted of plotting to annex parts of Louisiana and Spanish territory in Mexico to be used toward the establishment of an independent republic. He was acquitted on the grounds that, though he had conspired against the United States, he ...read more

Atlanta falls to Union forces

On August 28, 1864, Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman lays siege to Atlanta, Georgia, a critical Confederate hub, shelling civilians and cutting off supply lines. The Confederates retreated, destroying the city’s munitions as they went. On November 15 of that year, ...read more

A Warsaw radio commentator describes Germany's invasion of Poland as it unfolds on September 1, 1939. Despite a non-aggression pact between the two countries, Hitler claimed Polish "atrocities" left him no choice but to invade.

Germany invades Poland

On September 1, 1939, German forces under the control of Adolf Hitler bombard Poland on land and from the air. World War II had begun. Why did Germany invade Poland? Germany invaded Poland to regain lost territory and ultimately rule their neighbor to the east. The German ...read more

French president Charles De Gaulle urges the United States to get out of Vietnam

In a speech before 100,000 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, President Charles de Gaulle of France denounces U.S. policy in Vietnam and urges the U.S. government to pull its troops out of Southeast Asia. De Gaulle said that negotiations toward a settlement of the war could begin as soon ...read more

P.T. Barnum brings European opera star Jenny Lind to New York

The iconic American huckster, showman and circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum is most often associated not with refined high culture but of somewhat coarser forms of entertainment—the circus, yes, but also Siamese twins and various human "oddities" such as “Zip the Pinhead” and the ...read more

A teenage boy murders his father

Fifteen-year-old Eric Witte shoots his father, 43-year-old volunteer firefighter Paul Witte, in the family’s Indiana home. Although Eric admitted to shooting his father, he claimed that the gun had accidentally gone off when he tripped on a rug. The bullet hit his father, who was ...read more

Korean Airlines flight shot down by Soviet Union

Soviet jet fighters intercept a Korean Airlines passenger flight in Russian airspace and shoot the plane down, killing 269 passengers and crew-members. The incident dramatically increased tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. On September 1, 1983, Korean ...read more

Federal legislation makes airbags mandatory

On September 1, 1998, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 finally goes into effect. The law required that all cars and light trucks sold in the United States have air bags on both sides of the front seat. Inspired by the inflatable protective covers on ...read more

King George refuses Olive Branch Petition

Richard Penn and Arthur Lee, representing the Continental Congress, present the so-called Olive Branch Petition to the Earl of Dartmouth on September 1, 1775. Britain’s King George III, however, refused to receive the petition, which, written by John Dickinson, appealed directly ...read more

Soldier recounts brush with poison gas

On September 1, 1917, American soldier Stull Holt writes a letter home recounting some of his battlefield experiences on the Western Front at Verdun, France. Born in New York City in 1896, Holt served during World War I as a driver with the American Ambulance Field Service. He ...read more