Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo will form and fully subsidize a baseball team in his hometown of Sakai in Osaka Prefecture to contribute to the development of amateur baseball in Japan, sources said Thursday.

The team, which will be managed by former Nippon Steel Sakai player Nobuhide Shimizu and likely be named the “Nomo Baseball Club,” will begin taking part in league games starting in April 2004.

Nomo, who is also co-sponsoring a team in the American independent league, reportedly made the decision because of the dire situation of Japanese corporate-league clubs, which continue to be disbanded due to the financial woes of their parent companies.

The number of baseball clubs owned by companies has dropped from 237 to the currently registered 89.

After graduating from Seijo Kogyo high school in Osaka, Nomo played for Nippon Steel Sakai in the corporate leagues before spending the 1990-1994 seasons with the Osaka-based Kintetsu Buffaloes.

In 1995, the year after Nippon Steel suspended the activities of its Sakai branch baseball club, Nomo signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers to become the first Japanese major leaguer in 30 years.

The 34-year-old Nomo’s illustrious career has also included stints with the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox.

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