Yankees react to the retirement of Hideki Matsui
Hideki Matsui was without a doubt one of the classiest players I’ve had the pleasure of covering, wonderfully balancing his graceful nature with a flair for the dramatic. His final game as a Yankee, the historic Game 6 of the 2009 World Series, could not have been a more perfect conclusion to his seven seasons in pinstripes.
Derek Jeter often called Matsui one of his favorite teammates, and that’s high praise — and well deserved. I was personally always amazed by Matsui’s pain tolerance; you’d see him 20 minutes after the end of a game in which he more often than not did something to help the Yankees’ cause, and he would be grimacing at his locker with huge ice bags strapped to both knees.
More than once, I can remember seeing Matsui before a game and thinking there was no way he’d be in that night’s lineup. Not only would he go through batting practice and wind up in the starting nine, but flash forward a few hours and I’d be scribbling a ‘HR’ in the scorecard next to his name.
Here is the press release from the Yankees announcing Matsui’s retirement, with statements included from Hal Steinbrenner, Jeter and Brian Cashman:
DECEMBER 27, 2012
NEW YORK YANKEES REACT TO THE RETIREMENT OF HIDEKI MATSUI
Earlier today, former Yankee Hideki Matsui announced his retirement from Major League Baseball.
Matsui – nicknamed ‘Godzilla’ – spent seven seasons with the New York Yankees (2003-09), combining to bat .292 (977-for-3,348) with 536 runs, 196 doubles, 140 home runs and 597RBI.
Originally signed by the Yankees as a free agent on January 14, 2003, following a 10-year career in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, Matsui became first player in franchise history to hit a grand slam in his Yankee Stadium debut, doing so on April 8, 2003 vs. Minnesota.
The two-time All-Star (2003-04) did not miss a game over his first three years with the Yankees, playing 518 consecutive games – which remains the longest streak of consecutive games played to start a career in Major League Baseball. He also drove in at least 100 runs four times during his MLB career, including each of his first three seasons.
In his final game as a Yankee, Matsui went 3-for-4 with a home run and 6RBI in the Yankees’ World Series-clinching Game 6 win vs. Philadelphia on November 4, 2009. The 6RBI is tied the World Series record for a single game (also the Yankees’ Bobby Richardson in 1960 and Albert Pujols in 2011), and sealed Matsui’s unanimous selection as the World Series MVP.
STATEMENT FROM YANKEES MANAGING GENERAL PARTNER 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.”
STATEMENT FROM YANKEES GENERAL MANAGER 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.”
STATEMENT FROM YANKEES SHORTSTOP DEREK JETER (Matsui’s teammate from 2003-09)
“I’ve said it 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 shadowed by a large group of reporters, having the pressures of performing for 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.”