Thursday, October 11, 2007
Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui (松井 秀喜 Matsui Hideki, born June 12, 1974) is a Japanese Major League Baseball left fielder who plays for the New York Yankees. He bats left-handed and throws right-handed.
Yomiuri Giants (1993-2002)
New York Yankees (2003-present) Career in Japan
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. Some writers admitted they voted Berroa first because Matsui had previous experience in Japan. Hideo Nomo and Ichiro Suzuki had been voted for Rookie of the Year in previous years, though.
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. He was the American League All-Star Final Vote winner.
Matsui signed a four-year deal for $52 million, surpassing Ichiro Suzuki as the highest paid Japanese player in baseball, and securing his place with the Yankees through 2009.
Through 2006, his career batting average against lefties and righties was the same (.297).
On May 6, 2007 Matsui recorded his 2,000th hit in combined hits in Japan and the United States during a game vs. the Mariners, which earned him a place in Japan's Golden Players Club, reserved for players who have hit 2000 hits, 200 wins or 250 saves professionally. It was originally ruled an error on Raul Ibanez, who lost track of the ball due to the strong sun, but a scoring change gave Matsui the hit. Matsui went 2 for 4 that day; the second hit (#2001) was a clean single to right.
On August 5, 2007 Matsui became the first Japanese player in MLB history to hit 100 homeruns. The homerun came in the bottom of the 3rd inning off Gil Meche of the Kansas City Royals.
Career in the United States
Matsui did not miss a game in his first three seasons with the Yankees, putting together a streak of 518 games played. Before that, he played in 1,250 consecutive games with Yomiuri, for a total professional baseball streak of 1,768. Matsui holds the consecutive games played streak to start a Major League Baseball career.
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. The game did not count toward Matsui's streak, as a player must field for at least half an inning or take an at-bat to be credited with a game played (MLB rule 10.24). 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.
SABR also recognizes the streak as being 518.
In the first year of his playing streak, Matsui also set the Major League record for rookies (and all-time record for the Yankees) with 163 games played in a season. Although only 162 full games were played, the September 18 game against the Baltimore Orioles was called after five innings due to Hurricane Isabel. The game was tied at that point, and was replayed at a later date. Player stats from both games were counted.
Matsui personally donated $500,000 USD towards charity relief for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
Matsui owns an extensive collection of adult videos. Career statistics
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