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Hideki Matsui News and Notes: December 28, 2012

by on Dec.28, 2012 @ 11:00 pm, under MLB, NPB

Hideki Matsui news and notes from December 28:

Sanspo has posted a series of Matsui photos over the years.  Part 1, Part 2

Comments from various people:

Shigeo Nagashima -

I think he placed more important on maintaining the image fans have of "Hideki Matsui" instead of continuing to play the game he loves.  The last two to three years, he struggled with his knees problems every day before facing pitchers.  It must have been very difficult for him.  The 2000 Nippon Series, the 2009 World Series...  I see in my eyes, a big home run hitter that helped teams win games.  Personally, I can still hear the sounds of the two of us swinging the bat every day.  Up until now, I tried to hold back on comments with praise, but now that he is taking the uniform off, I want to say that he was one of the best home run hitters of the modern era.

Source: Sanspo 12/28/2012, Daily Sports 12/28/2012, Nikkan Sports 12/28/2012

Sadaharu Oh -

Since high school, he carried Japanese baseball on his shoulders and received a lot of attention as a big left-handed hitter.  I think he fought through a tremendous amount of pressure each day.

I wanted to see him continue his career in Japan, but in taking on the challenge of playing for the well-known Yankees, his efforts had a great impact on the development of Japanese baseball.  His 2009 World Series MVP was something we baseball players were especially proud of.

It may have been a difficult journey, but it was one that he selected.  I am sure he does not have any regrets.

A very nice job.

Source: Daily Sports 12/28/2012, Nikkan Sports 12/28/2012

Kojiro Shiraishi, Yomiuri Giants' owner -

I think there are many things [Matsui] will think about regarding what he does next.  In speaking for the organization, we would like to do what we can help Matsui realize his wishes.  If he wants to return to the Yomiuri organization, if he wants to put on the Yomiuri uniform at some point in the future to manage the team, we would be grateful and would welcome him."

Source: Nikkan Sports 12/28/2012

Isozaki Kubota, Mizuno bat-maker -

I first met Matsui in December 1992 when he visited the Mizuno Technics factory with his Seiryo High School manager Tomoshige Yamashita.

I still remember distinctly, details from that day.  He was very big and calm.  He was a young student, but he seemed to have a very strong center.  When I saw his hands, the skin was thick and the joints were hard.  [His hands] told me that he practiced very hard.

It has been twenty years since then.  He left many records, but remained sincere with his feelings for baseball.  He was always very respectful toward the equipment makers.  I am extremely grateful to have met someone that used the bat so well.

Source: Daily Sports 12/28/2012

Ryozo Kato, NPB commissioner -

More than feeling sad, I feel what a waste.  [Matsui] was a great home run hitter to come out of Japanese baseball.  He was also very clutch.  I think he was able to make it in New York and was accepted by teammates because of his virtue and personality.

Source: Nikkan Sports 12/28/2012

Ichiro Suzuki -

There were many times we just spoke for hours.  [Matsui] has a different way of thinking about things that really interests me.  In playing for the Yankees, I realize how important his accomplishment were, how difficult things must have been.  He is the one player I knew about from junior high.  That he is taking his uniform off now is very sad.

Source: Sanspo 12/28/2012

Kazuhiro Kiyohara -

[Matsui] was a productive clean-up hitter for the Giants and won a World Series MVP with the Yankees.  To be missed by all these people after retiring.  I think he had a great career and I want to applaud him.  When I played baseball, I liked to take batting practice next to him.  I did not see any hitters that could surpass what Matsui and I had during batting practice.  There were no power hitters better than Matsui.

Source: Nikkan Sports 12/28/2012

Hiromitsu Ochiai -

In thinking about the Matsui I played with about twenty years ago, I remember his power.  He was still rough around the edges, but his power made up for that.  He played ten years in Japan and then ten years in Japan.  I think you could say that he did all that he could do.

Source: Nikkan Sports 12/28/2012

Politicians -

Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary

[Matsui] was an amazing player that gave the people of Japan hope and joy.  I am surprised and saddened [by the news].

Fumio Kishida, Minister Foreign Affairs

As a pro yakyu fan myself, this greatly saddens me.  [Matsui] gave baseball fans in Japan and the US courage, his achievements are really great.

Nobuteru Ishihara, Environment Minister

It is really too bad.  I was really moved when he won the MVP during the World Series.

Source: Sanspo 12/28/2012

Other notes:

  • About eighty members of the media were at Matsui's retirement press conference.  There were also over ten TV cameras.
  • Matsui did not want to use the word "retirement" (引退) during his press conference.  He got some laughs when he said it was because he still planned to play sandlot baseball.
  • Matsui has not made any decisions about what he plans to do next.
  • Matsui retired because he was not able to take advantage of the many opportunities he got.
  • Matsui decided not to continue his career in Japan because he felt too many fans would expect to see the player from ten years ago.  He was not confident he could pull that off.
  • The condition of Matsui's knees were also an issue.
  • Matsui is planning to spend the New Year in New York.
  • Matsui's wife is reportedly pregnant.  Could explain why he plans to spend the New Year in the US.

Source: Sanspo 12/28/2012, Sanspo 12/28/2012, Nikkan Sports 12/28/2012, Sponichi 12/28/2012, Sponichi 12/28/2012Sponichi 12/28/2012, Sponichi 12/28/2012

Links to US news sites: