For more than 50 years, former Dodgers president Peter O’Malley worked to further baseball’s outreach in Japan. As a result, O’Malley was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun during Japan Night at Dodger Stadium.
The honor -- given to individuals who have improved international relations -- was bestowed by the country’s consul general in Los Angeles, Harry H. Horinouchi, before Wednesday’s game.
After the ceremony, O’Malley, Horinouchi and former Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo discussed the pregame events.
“I was very pleased to learn that Mr. O’Malley received this great honor by the Japanese government,” Nomo said through an interpreter. “I understand his great contribution to Japanese baseball over many decades. Without his support and hard work to Japanese baseball, I wouldn’t be here.”
As a rookie in 1995, Nomo was named to the NL All-Star team and finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting.
“Hideo and I really connected and bonded,” O’Malley said. “That doesn’t happen with all owners and all players. But for whatever reason, the first time we met was at Dodger Stadium … and we connected. We trusted each other. I knew he had a tough time. In spring training, no one spoke Japanese.”
O’Malley, who was president of the Dodgers from 1970 to 1998, also discussed the current makeup of team, particularly since new ownership took over for the McCourts in 2012.
“I think they’re doing very well,” O’Malley said. “As I said, the Dodgers are in good hands, and I believe that. I would not have said that several years ago, and I didn’t. The ballclub is in first place. It’s a good time to be a fan of the Dodgers. The Dodgers will remain in first place for many years.”