|Outfielder / Designated hitter|
| Born: June 12, 1974|
|Bats: Left||Throws: Right|
|Height: 6 ft 2||Weight: 210 lbs|
| NPB: May 1, 1993 for the Yomiuri Giants|
MLB: March 31, 2003 for the New York Yankees
| Yomiuri Giants (1993–2003)|
New York Yankees (2003–2009)
Oakland Athletics (2010)
Anaheim Angels (2011)
Tampa Bay Rays (2012–2013)
|Batting Average: .294|
|Home runs 113|
| 2x All-Star selection (2003, 2004)|
World Series (2009)
World Series MVP (2009)
Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui (松井 秀喜 Matsui Hideki?, born June 12, 1974) is a Japanese former outfielder and designated hitter who played baseball in Japan and the United States. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.
He played for the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan and then played for the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball in North America.
Matsui was born in Neagari, Ishikawa, Japan (later merged into Nomi, Ishikawa). He started playing baseball when he was in elementary school. According to an interview on YES Network's "CenterStage," Matsui originally batted right-handed as a child. However, when he started playing with his older brother and his friends, Matsui was such a good batter that his embarrassed brother insisted that he bat left-handed or stop playing with them. Matsui soon enough became an overpowering left-handed batter, and stayed on that side of the plate from then on. Matsui's stance is somewhat eccentric because he does not place any movement on his bat.
Matsui participated in four National High School Baseball Tournaments at Koshien Stadium, once in the spring and three times in summer, during his high school years. In 1992, he drew five consecutive intentional walks in a game at Koshien and became a nationwide topic in Japan at that time (partly because intentionally walking batters was very uncommon in Japan at that time), even though the strategy worked and his team lost. Matsui graduated from Seiryo High School in Kanazawa, Ishikawa.
Career in JapanEdit
Following high school Matsui was drafted by the Yomiuri Giants in the first round. Based in Tokyo, the Giants are Japan's most famous and, by far, most successful baseball franchise. Coincidentally, Yomiuri is often referred to by fans and detractors alike as the "New York Yankees of the Japanese Baseball League."
A three-time MVP in the Japanese Central League (1996, 2000, and 2002), Matsui led his team into four Japan Series and winning three titles (1994, 2000 and 2002). He also made nine consecutive all-star games and led the league in home runs and RBIs three times (1998, 2000, and 2002). His single season mark for home runs was 50 in 2002, his final season in Japan. In the ten seasons he played in Japan, Matsui totalled 1268 games played, 4572 AB, 1390 hits, 901 runs, 332 home runs, 889 RBIs, a .304 batting average, and a .582 slugging percentage.
His first trip to the Japan Series became well-known. Because of the MLBPA Players' Strike in 1994, Matsui became known to the American media, as media outlets (including those in Minnesota, who was there covering two players with Minnesota ties, Philadelphia, and Washington) were covering the Series, which was referred in Sports Illustrated as "the" Fall Classic.
In Japan, Matsui earned the popular nickname "Godzilla". The origin of the name, however, is unflattering, as it is in reference as much to his coarse and pockmarked facial complexion as it is in his hitting power. He even made a cameo in the film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.
Career in the United StatesEdit
Matsui signed a three-year contract with the New York Yankees on January 14, 2003. A parade was held for him in Tokyo to celebrate his signing with the Yankees and many reporters and photographers followed him to MLB from his home in Tokyo. In his first ML at bat he hit an RBI single. His first game at Yankee Stadium was also very memorable. In the 2003 Yankee home opener, Matsui became the first Yankee to hit a grand slam in his first game at Yankee Stadium. Matsui went on to hit .287 with 16 home runs and 106 RBI. Matsui narrowly missed the Rookie of the Year Award to Angel Berroa. Another factor was that Matsui's 16 home runs were disappointing in view of his 50 the year before in Japan. Some writers admitted they voted Berroa first because Matsui had previous experience in Japan. Also in his first game, Matsui did not understand what was happening when the Bleacher Creatures were chanting his name. He therefore did not acknowledge them and the chanting went on for almost two minutes. (The fans in the Yankee Stadium bleachers are referred to as "Bleacher Creatures." At the beginning of each Yankee home game, they do a "roll call" in which they rhythmically chant the name of each starting player, except the pitcher and catcher, until the player acknowledges the call.)
In his second season, Matsui finished 2004 with a .298 average with 31 home runs and 108 RBIs. In 2005, Matsui hit a career high .305 and 116 RBIs. In 2006, Matsui finished his fourth season with a .302 average with 8 home runs and 29 RBIs after missing most of the season due to a wrist injury.
Through 2006, his career batting average against lefties and righties was the same (.297).
Matsui did not miss a game in his first three seasons with the Yankees, putting together a streak of 519 games played. Before that, he played in 1,250 consecutive games with Yomiuri, for a total professional baseball streak of 1,769. His 519 consecutive games set a record for most consecutive games to start a career (Ernie Banks of Chicago Cubs held major league record of 424 (1953-1956 and Al Simmons of Philadelphia Athletics held AL mark of 394 games (1924-1926). Both Banks and Simmons are Hall-of-Famers.
On May 11, 2006, in his 519th game with the Yankees, Matsui fractured his left wrist on an unsuccessful sliding catch in the top of the first inning against the Boston Red Sox. Matsui, despite the injury threw the ball back to the infield before gripping his wounded wrist in obvious pain. Matsui underwent surgery on May 12, 2006. He returned to the Yankees starting lineup on September 12 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and had an RBI single in his first AB back, and proceeded to go 4 for 4 with a walk, with 2 runs scored as well.
Matsui, after knee surgery served full-time as a DH and pinch hitter in 2009. He was a Yankee hero in the post-season as the Yankees won their 27th World Championship (first since 2000) and defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 by a score of 7-3. Matsu drove in 6 of the runs (tying Bobby Richardson for most rbi's in a World Series Game (1960 World Series) and he was named World Series MVP. Hideki Matsui signed a 1-year contrfact with the Anaheim Angels, which was made official on Wednesday, December 16, 2009, ending his Yankee tenure.
- In the popular manga Major the hero's father Honda Shigeharu gains his fame as a great pitcher (for the fictional team "Yokohama Blue Oceans") by striking Matsui out. After being demoted to the minors he makes his dream to come back to the majors and strike Matsui out again, but he is injured before achieving that goal. Not giving up, he returns to the majors as a batter and after his team is losing because of home run by Matsui, he slams a home run right on his first at bat in the majors.
- The Yankee Stadium PA system often plays The Who's Baba O'Riley when Matsui strides to the plate for an important late-game at-bat; also they play Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin.
- Matsui makes a cameo appearance in the 2006 film Click in a cut scene wherein he hits a two-run homer.
- Hideki Matsui is not related to infielder Kaz Matsui of the Houston Astros (formerly of the New York Mets and Colorado Rockies).
- Nippon Professional Baseball
- 2003 World Series
- List of Japanese baseball players
- History of baseball outside the United States