Hideki Matsui was a Japanese superstar before he ever step foot in the Bronx, yet, on his day of retirement from baseball, his press conference, he chose New York, the place where he played for the New York Yankees for 7 years and won a World Championship in 2009. Think about that...
Former Yankee Hideki Matsui retires from baseball in New York, not Japan. That's why I love Pete Caldera, he makes you think. Caldera writes: "Matsui’s affection for New York swayed him to choose Manhattan over Tokyo for the announcement, which was broadcast live to Japan."
Shigeo Nagashima: 'Go on and become a player like Joe DiMaggio.' Though he didn’t have a precise picture, the Yankees were in Matsui’s mind from that day forward."
And so it was, Godzilla hit New York by storm and it was a huge signing at the time. But the one thing you knew about Hideki from the moment he cranked out his first home run in pinstripes, a grand slam, was that he was about "team" and not about himself. He wanted to succeed as an individual, this was true and is for every ballplayer, but when your team is in a fight, you group together and win. Matsui knew that all too well and showed it to us every game.
Derek Jeter's quote about him, he said: "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. " That's coming from the Captain... that means something.
But I keep going back to Matsui choosing New York over Japan. Sure, his press conference was broadcast live in Tokyo, but it just symbolizes so much. For 1, he built a life in the Bronx and the fans, me included, fell in love with this guy. We embraced him here, because he wasn't a selfish player, much like Jeet, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Bernie Williams and Don Mattingly before him...Matsui got it. He knew what it meant to be a Yankee and he pushed to be a Yankee and succeed right before our eyes. That doesn't happen too often. Some players come to New York and don't get it. Matsui got it.
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