In light of the recent news regarding former New York Yankee Hideki Matsui, it is a good opportunity to ruminate on his time in pinstripes.
Matsui announced earlier Friday that he is planning to sign a one-day minor league deal with the Yanks in July in order to retire as a Yankee.
On July 28th, the 55th home game of the season, the team will honor Hideki Matsui by distributing his bobblehead. Matsui wore the number 55 with the Yanks, and the day is sure to be a heartfelt one for both the team and the fans who know firsthand what Matsui meant to the Yankees in his seven seasons with the bombers.
The Japanese born player was already a star in his own right before signing with the Yankees in late 2002. He had a breakout rookie season with the Yanks, hitting a grand slam in his first game at Yankee stadium and coming in second in Rookie of the Year voting.
His first three seasons, Matsui played in every single game, finishing with a batting average of at least .287 each year, and averaging over 175 hits per season.
Though he was injured in 2006, “Godzilla” came back and had three more successful seasons with the Yanks, including getting his 2,000th hit (combined US and Japan) in 2007, as well as becoming the first Japanese player in the majors to notch 100 homers.
He will likely be best remembered for his postseason heroics, namely the 2009 World Series in which he went 8 for 13, including three homers and eight RBI, earning the World Series MVP award. It was the first World Series the Yanks had won since 2000, and Matsui was a huge part of bringing the winning tradition back to New York.
Beyond his numbers, Matsui was by all accounts a great teammate, and his language barrier did not prevent him from joking around with Derek Jeter in the dugout. He also brought a great international contingent to the fan base, with people in Japan watching his at-bats in the early morning and Japanese fans coming in droves to watch their fan favorite play.
Besides Ichiro Suzuki, Matsui is the most famous player from Japan to join MLB, and it was great to have him on the Yankees.
After leaving the Yankees in 2009, he spent three seasons with three different teams, but between Japan and the US he has had a full career and wants it to end in pinstripes.
Holly Berkowitz is a New York Yankees writer for rantsports.com. Follow her on Twitter @hollyberry9118.