Hideki Matsui, the 2009 World Series MVP , signed a one-day Minor League contract with former club the New York Yankees a quarter past eleven on Sunday morning, Eastern Time. Matsui, who drove in 8 RBI with 3 homers in six games at the Fall Classic in 2009, officially retired behind the home plate at the Yankee Stadium just an hour and forty minutes after signing the contract. Former teammate and Yankee Captain Derek Jeter presented him a framed #55 jersey, the number he’s been known while playing 7 seasons with the Bronx Bombers.
“I officially announced my retirement last year, but to be able to come back in this manner — at the time, I never really imagined having this type of opportunity,” said the 39-year old outfielder, who used to bat left. While signing the minor league contract, Matsui expressed his gratitude. “I’d like to thank the Yankees organization, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me this opportunity.” Hideki Matsui was joined by his family, his parents and brother, who flew all the way from Ishikawa Prefecture. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and Assistant GM Jean Afterman were also present behind the home plate.
Although Matsui left the Yankees after their 27th World Series title, Matsui has always been well received in Yankee Stadium. Shortstop Derek Jeter, who was considered one of the Yankees closest to Matsui, described the “Godzilla” as a “professional” player who “moved runners when he had to move them.” Jeter, like former captain Lou Gehrig, is known for always being present in every game except when advised by the medical team to take a day’s off, expressed his appreciation of Matsui’s approach to the game. “He played every day. The biggest thing is he never made excuses. He never talked about injuries; he never used injuries as an excuse. He went out there and played,” said Captain Jete.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi also had nothing but praise for Matsui. “Not only was he a middle-of-the-order hitter that had great production, he was a staple in the clubhouse. He was adored by his teammates.” Cashman also gave credit to the outfielder for giving the New York Yankees another World Series ring. “I’m wearing a ring on this finger, this particular ring — the 2009 ring — thanks to Hideki Matsui’s efforts,” the GM said. Matsui was the particular threat for the Phillies with Pedro Martinez on the mound in the 2009 World Series game 6. Playing a designated hitter, he was 3-for-4 with 6 RBI and a home run that night, when the Yankees had their first World Series title in 9 years.
“To become a member of the Yankees and retire as a Yankee, I’m just so humbled and honored,” said Matsui. Referring to fans, he said, “I honestly don’t know how Yankee fans really feel about me, but if they really feel that way, then I’m just honored.” The Japanese baseball legend played 3 more seasons with the LA Angels, Oakland Athletics, and the Tampa Bay Rays, spending a season with each team.
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