Anybody who watched the New York Yankees during Hideki Matsui‘s playing days saw the amount of support that the team got from its Japanese fanbase. The recognizable red and white flag was commonly seen among a sea of signs containing Japanese symbols, and this was all for just one player. The Yankees now have three Japanese natives.
New York is now home to three of the most well known Japanese players in the game with Ichiro Suzuki, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees tend to draw a large amount of international support as it is, but that will grow drastically with these players on the roster. Expect the Matsui turnout to be multiplied.
Ichiro is one of the most iconic players in the game. Japanese fans would come out to see him regardless of who his teammates were. Now that he is teamed up with Kuroda and Tanaka, fans are going to flock to the stadium. It is rare to have three Japanese players on a single MLB team period. To have three Japanese superstars on the same team is almost unheard of.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Tanaka ended up in pinstripes. He knows that right now New York is the place to be for a Japanese player. On his team he has two veterans who have made the same transition that he is currently making, and they succeeded at it. He also knows that the Japanese media is always going to be close by in the Bronx. It shouldn’t be a difficult transition for the 25-year-old as Japan should never seem very far away.
The crowds at Yankees games are going to be more diverse than usual in 2014. Matsui and his “Godzilla” persona drew a level of international attention that New York had never seen before. That is until Ichiro and the boys take the field this season.