The first instance of a Japanese-born player playing in Major League Baseball was in 1964, when the Nankai Hawks, an NPB team, sent three exchange prospects to the United States to gain experience in MLB's minor league system. One of the players, pitcher Masanori Murakami, was named the California League Rookie of the Year while playing for the Fresno Giants (the San Francisco Giants' Class-A team). Giants executives were impressed with this talent and on September 1, 1964 Murakami was promoted, thus becoming the first Japanese player to play in MLB. After Murakami put up good pitching statistics as a reliever, Giants executives sought to exercise a clause in their contract with the Hawks that, they claimed, allowed them to buy up an exchange prospect's contract. NPB officials objected, stating that they had no intention of selling Murakami's contract to the Giants and telling them that Murakami was merely on loan for the 1964 season. After a two-month stalemate the Giants eventually agreed to send Murakami back to the Hawks after the 1965 season. Thus, after pitching one more season for the Giants, Murakami returned to Japan to play for the Hawks. This affair led to the 1967 United States – Japanese Player Contract Agreement, also known as the "Working Agreement", between MLB and NPB, which was basically a hands-off policy.
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