Meet the man who changed American baseball for the Japanese forever.

On September 1, 1964, Masanori "Mashi" Murakami came in as a relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants against the Mets in New York.

Though the Giants ended up losing 4-1, he allowed no runs in his debut, and to boot, he became the first ever Japanese man to play in Major League Baseball.


Murakami in his Giants uniform. Photo by National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, New York. Used with permission.

Murakami had been a baseball prodigy in Japan, playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball league while he was still in high school.

He made his Japanese pro debut in 1962 for the Osaka-based Nankai Hawks, when he was only 19 years old. According to the History Channel, Murakami threw his pitches with a sidearm delivery, a deceptive style that was then common in Japan but less so in the United States.

The Giants heard about Murakami through Tsuneo "Cappy" Harada, an American businessman who had been living in Japan (and apparently earning himself a great nickname). Harada had been scouting Japanese players for the Giants, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame blog, and Murakami stood out as exceptionally talented.

Throwing out the first pitch during a game at the Tokyo Dome in 2014. Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images.

In 1964, as a part of an exchange program, he left his home country and headed to Arizona, where he would participate in spring training with a Giants-affiliated minor league team.

Within the same year, a then-20-year-old Murakami found himself pitching in front of a crowd of about 40,000 people at Shea Stadium in his MLB debut against the Mets.

"I go to the fence and the door opens, and I go in," Murakami recently told The Guardian. "I'm walking to the mound, that time, wow. But [being] inside [the field] is very different. Maybe if I get nervous, it's not good. Now, I think OK, make me relax. The stands, the people. I can hear, but I don't know what they're saying. I understood a little English."

Murakami shakes hands with Chicago Cubs pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada at the Tokyo Dome in 2014. Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images.

Murakami, it seems, wasn't trying to make it big or be a hero.

"I was never thinking of the major leagues," he said in July. "I just wanted to pitch."

His impact on American baseball was long-lasting, even if his playing career was not.

Murakami was a relief pitcher with the Giants for the rest of the 1964 season and continued into the next year, but he only appeared in 54 games during that span. After a contract dispute between the Giants and the Nankai Hawks, he went back to play in Japan until the early-1980s.

Though he is now sometimes referred to as the "Jackie Robinson of Japanese baseball," his historic achievement did not immediately become a watershed moment.

Signing autographs before a July 1995 legends game at The Ballpark (now Globe Life Park) in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Paul Buck/AFP/Getty Images.

Robert K. Fitts, who wrote "Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer," told Boston-based WBUR that Murakami's quick exit from the MLB was more about contractual obligations than his ability on the field.

"After Mashi returned to Japan, Major League Baseball and Japan Professional Baseball came to an agreement that each side would respect the reserve clauses of the other country's contracts," Fitts told WBUR in August. "Now back then there was no free agency, players were tied to their teams until they retired or were traded. So, in effect, that agreement kept all Japanese players in Japan."

Murakami being honored before a 1995 game in San Francisco. Photo by John G. Mabanglo/AFP/Getty Images.

There were no other Japanese players in Major League Baseball until Hideo Nomo played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995.

That helped create a pathway to the U.S. for more Japanese players, such as Ichiro Suzuki, a right fielder who still plays today and has already racked up numerous MLB awards, and Hiroki Kuroda, a pitcher who spent seven seasons with the Dodgers and New York Yankees.

Pitcher Hideo Nomo became the second Japanese-born MLB player in history when he debuted against the San Francisco Giants on May 2, 1995. Monica M. Davey/AFP/Getty Images.

There's still lots of room for growth. Asians only made up 1.9% of the Major League players in 2012, according to data compiled by the Society of American Baseball Statistics.

Regardless, Murakami will be remembered as a trailblazer. "For a long time, he was kind of a footnote in history. He was a trivia-question answer," Fitts told TIME Magazine. “But he was a true hero."

Even though Murakami's achievement did not immediately lead to more Japanese players in the majors, he showed they could play ball — which continues today.

Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande duked it out on Jimmy Fallon's 'The Tonight Show.'

There are pop stars, and then there are singers. While recording studio technology can make people sound like amazing singers, the proof is in their live performances.

Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande took it a whole step further on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," delivering not only a jaw-dropping live performance but doing so in the form of revolving pop diva hits in an "impossible karaoke" showdown. In less than five minutes, they showed off their combined ability to nail pretty much anything, from imitating iconic singers' styles to belting out well-known songs with their own vocal stylings.

Watch this and try not to be impressed:

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via © Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021 and © Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Two of the winners of the Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

A few weeks ago, Upworthy shared the hilarious winners of the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards and the winner was a well-timed shot of a monkey who appears to have hurt the family jewels on a suspension wire. (Don't worry folks, no monkeys were harmed for the awards.)

The awards were created six years ago by Tom Sullam and Paul Joynson-Hicks to promote positive awareness of animal welfare issues. The competition has been so successful, the duo decided to branch out and create the Comedy Pet Photo Awards, where photographers can submit pictures of their furry friends for a £2,000 ($2650) prize.

Donations generated by the competition go to Animal Support Angels, an animal welfare charity in the UK.

This year's winner is Zoe Ross for "Whizz Pop," a photo of her labrador puppy Pepper who appears to be tooting bubbles.

“We never ever thought that we would win but entered the competition because we loved the idea of helping a charity just by sending in a funny photo of Pepper," Ross said in a statement. "She is such a little monkey, and very proud of herself, bringing in items from the garden and parading past you until you notice her. She is the happiest puppy we’ve ever known and completely loved to pieces.”

Here are the rest of the winners of the 2021 Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

Overall Winner: Zoe Ross "Whizz Pop," Penkridge, UK

© Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Did this puppy swallow a bubble?

Best Dog Category: Carmen Cromer "Jurassic Bark," Pittsboro, North Carolina

© Carmen Cromer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"My golden retriever, Clementine, loves to stick her face in front of the hose while I water the plants. Her expression in this photo made me think of a tyrannosaurus rex, hence the title, "Jurassic Bark." Duh nuh nuuuh nuhnuh, duh nuh nuuuh nuh nuh, dun duh duuuh nuh nuh nuh nUUUUUUhhhh," Carmen Cromer.

Best Cat Category: Kathrynn Trott "Photobomb," Ystradgynlais, UK

© Kathrynn Trott/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Jeff stealing the limelight from his brother Jaffa.

Best Horse Category: Mary Ellis, "I said 'Good Morning," Platte River State Park, Nebraska

© Mary Ellis/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I like to visit the stable horses before I begin my hike at the State Park. This is the reply I received when I said 'Good morning,'" Mary Ellis.

All Other Creatures Category: Sophie Bonnefoi, "The Eureka Moment," Oxford, UK

© Sophie Bonnefoi/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Cutie and Speedy are two chicks hatched from eggs placed in an incubator at home in August 2020. They spent their first few weeks indoors. In the photo, they are just over two weeks old. They were curious about everything. This is the day they discovered their own shadow. It was hilarious to see them wondering and exploring that 'dark thing' that was moving with them!" Sophie Bonnefoi.

Junior Category: Suzi Lonergan, "Sit!" Pacific Palisades, California

© Suzi Lonergan/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Our granddaughter gave the command to sit. Beau is very obedient," Suzi Lonergan.

Pets Who Look Like Their Owners Category: Jakub Gojda, "That Was a Good One!" Czech Republic

© Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This photo was taken by accident during the photography of my ex-girlfriend with her beloved mare. For this cheerful moment, I thank the fly that sat on the horse's nose and he instinctively shook his head," Jakub Gojda.

Highly Commended: Chloe Beck, "Hugo the Photobomber," Walsall, UK

© Chloe Beck/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is my best friend Faith, her husband Alex, and their cheeky Sproodle, Hugo. Faith wanted a photograph to mark a special occasion—her first outing after shielding at home for 14 months. Hugo jumped into the frame at just the right moment!" Chloe Beck.

Highly Commended: Luke O'Brien, "Mumford and Chum," Coventry, UK

© Luke O'Brien/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

​"Losing the opportunity to play with my human bandmates during lockdown, Flint, my rescue dog, soon taught me that we didn't just have sharp bones in common, but musical ones, too. He soon became the perfect substitute for a collaborative stomp up at home, so much so that we felt we deserved our own band name (Muttford and Chum). With my camera set up remotely during this shoot, I think it's fair to say that the image is proof that his conviction as a performer matches my own," Luke O'Brien.

Highly Commended: Kathryn Clark, "Wine Time," Clichester, UK

© Kathryn Clark/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"It's that time of day again! Little Blue enjoys it almost as much as me," Kathryn Clark.

Highly Commended: Diana Jill Mehner, "Crazy in Love with Fall," Paderborn, Germany

© Diana Jill Mehner/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

This is Leia. As you can see, she definitely loves playing with all the leaves in autumn. It was really tricky to take this picture because you never know what the dog is going to do next," Diana Jill Mehner.

Highly Commended: Christine Johnson, "Boing," Crosby Beach, UK

© Christine Johnson/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I was busy playing with my dog on the beach and this dog came to play. I liked the shapes he was making in the air," Christine Johnson

Highly Commended: Manel Subirats Ferrer, "Ostrich Style," Platja del Prat de Llobregat, Spain

© Manel Subirats Ferrer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Nuka playing hide and seek at the beach.

Highly Commended: Colin Doyle, "Nosey Nieghbor," Bromsgrove, UK

© Colin Doyle/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

​"According to Ozzy, we need a new fence panel ASAP. He is fed up with Chester our nosy next door neighbor spying on him every time he has a meal," Colin Doyle.

Highly Commended: Corey Seeman, "A Warm Spot on a Cold Day," Michigan

© Corey Seeman/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Two of the morning regulars at the dog park are Gary (hound mix with the jacket) and Kona, one of the most chill dogs ever," Corey Seeman.

Highly Commended: Lucy Slater, "So What?" San Diego, California

© Lucy Slater/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is how I like to sit!" Vincent the cat.

Highly Commended: Mollie Cheary, "Photobomb," Poole, UK

© Mollie Cheary/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Bailey was so excited to see her friends, she couldn't sit still for a photo!" Mollie Cheary.

via PixaBay and PixaBay

A cat sitting funny and a happy pug.

When my old dog Murray really wanted to tell me something and his barking or pawing didn’t get the job done, he would start making sounds that I swear mimicked human speech. Now, I’m not entirely sure that he was attempting to get through to me as a member of my own species would, but I don’t know how else to explain this quirky behavior.

It’s pretty amazing when we see our pets cross the imaginary line that separates the species by exhibiting human-like behaviors. But if you were to try to explain them to someone who’s never had a dog or cat (or parrot you will soon see) most of them would probably just shrug it off.

So, I never really talked to anyone about my dog’s strange but funny human impersonation.

Reddit user DMLorance created a safe space for pet owners to share their stories that no one believes on the AskReddit subforum.

“Pet owners of Reddit. What quirk does your pet (past or present) do that nobody believes when you tell them?”

Here are 16 of the best responses.


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