Matsui signed as a free agent with New York in 2003 and played seven years in Pinstripes after 10 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. Nicknamed Godzilla Hideki received three Central League MVP awards as a three-time Japan League champion with the Giants and considered the most dominant left-handed power hitter during his tenure from 1993-2003. While in New York Hideki batted .292 with 140 homers and 597 RBIs capping off his career as a Yankee with the 2009 World Series MVP helping New York win their 27 World Championship. Matsui was an All-Star in 2003-04 drove in over a 100 runs four out of seven years he played in New York.
"I want to thank all my fans, in the past 20 years — 10 years in Japan and 10 years in the U.S. — who have supported me," Matsui said as reported by MLB.com. "I was supported by many fans and wonderful coaches and teammates."
A career .282 hitter with 760 RBIs, Matsui owns the highest home run, RBI and walk totals for any Japanese player in Major League history. After playing for New York Hideki played with with the Angels (2010), Athletics (2011) and Rays (2012) a career that would span 20 years.
In a statement released by New York Yankees, managing partner Hal Steinbrenner said,“Hideki Matsui, in many ways, embodied what this organization stands for. He was dedicated to his craft, embraced his responsibilities to his team and fans, and elevated his play when he was needed the most. He did all these things with a humility that was distinctly his own, which is why he was such a big part of our success and why he will always be a cherished member of the Yankees family."
Longtime teammate and good friend Derek Jeter also released a statement saying, "I’ve said it numerous times over the years, but it’s worth repeating now. 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. Despite being shadowed by a large group of reporters, having the pressures of performing for his fans both in New York and Japan and becoming acclimated to the bright lights of New York City, he always remained focused and committed to his job and to those of us he shared the clubhouse with. I have a lot of respect for Hideki. He was someone we counted on a great deal and he’s a big reason why we became World Champions in 2009."
Matsui said he doesn't intend to play for Japan in the World Baseball Classic and has no definitive plans regarding his future endeavors.Tags: Baseball, Derek Jeter, Hal Steinbrenner, hideki matsui, MLB, New York, New York Yankees, World Baseball Classic, Yomiuri Giants