Hideki Matsui announced his retirement from professional baseball today. Matsui played in the United States for ten years after coming over from Japan where he played for ten years. Matsui was nicknamed Godzilla, he played with the New York Yankees from 2003-2009 after playing for the Tokyo Giants which is Japans version of the Yankees. He was a very good player, very clutch and also very classy.. He batted 292 with the Yankees, scoring 536 runs, hitting 196 doubles, 140 homeruns and driving in 597 runs. He became the first player in Yankees franchise history to hit a grand slam in his Yankee Stadium debut. He accomplished that feat against the Minnesota Twins on April 8, 2003. He was a two time all star who didn’t miss a game in his first three years, 518 consecutive games which is a record still today for longest streak to start a career. Matsui always had a flair for the dramatic and in his final game as a Yankee he went 3-4 and drove in six runs to clinch World Series Game 6 on November 4, 2009 against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was loved by everyone and that came out today upon the news of his retirement. Here are some of the Yankees reacting to the news.
Hal Steinbrenner: “Hideki Matsui in many ways , embodied what this organization stands for. He was dedicated to his craft, embraced his responsibilities to his team and fans, and elevated his play when he was needed the most. He did all these things with a humility that was distinctly his own, which is why he was such a big part of our success and why he will always be a cherished member of the Yankees family.”
Brian Cashman: “Hideki is proof that baseball is an international attraction that brings people from all over the world together in their passion for the game. He was the type of player and person you want young fans of this game to emulate. He played with pride, discipline and of course talent, and flourished when the lights were at their brightest. People naturally gravitated towards him, and that’s a direct reflection of his character. He was a true professional in every sense of the word and it feels good knowing he was able to raise the championship trophy as a member of the Yankees.”
Derek Jeter: “I’ve said numerous times over the years, but it’s worth repeating now. I’ve had a lot of teammates over the years with the Yankees, but I will always consider Hideki one of my favorites. The way he went about his business day in and day out was impressive. Despite being overshadowed by a large group of reporters, having the pressures of performing for both his fans both in New York and Japan and becoming acclimated to the bright lights of New York City, he always remained focused and committed to his job and to those of us he shared the clubhouse with. I have a lot of respect for Hideki. He was someone we counted on a great deal and he’s a big reason why we became World Champions in 2009.”
I was at that first game in 2003 and he became an instant fan favorite. He always had a flair for the dramatic and was so clutch and that is why he was loved in New York. The Yankees today don’t really have guys like that and that is why they have struggled in the postseason. I like what they have done this off-season because I feel like they are going back to what made them successful, not so much guys that just hit homeruns but guys who can do a lot and be clutch players. I wish Hideki all the best and I am sure his fans and the Yankees look forward to seeing him at future Old Timers day celebrations.