Murakami is the only native product of the Japanese leagues to play in the major leagues. He was successful in limited use as a reliever for the Giants, but his U.S. career was cut short when the Japanese government, afraid that its country’s teams would be decimated should others follow Murakami’s path, demanded that he be returned. Since then, only a few veterans whose Japanese careers were nearly over have been allowed to try out for American teams. None have made it to the majors.
His unique status made Murakami the focus of outlandish expectations on the resumption of his Japanese career. The tremendous pressure affected his performance at first. Although he eventually settled down, he never became the superstar that the public expected.