|Team||New York Yankees|
|Years in Japan||10 years|
|Years in Major League Baseball||3 years|
|Height||6 ft 2 in (1.86 m)|
|Place of Birth||Kanazawa, Japan|
|Selection||Came from Yomiuri Giants in Japan|
|Major League Debut||March 31, 2005|
Matsui was born in Neagari, Ishikawa, Japan. He started playing baseball when he was in elementary school, and participated in four National High School Baseball Tournaments at Koshien Stadium, once in the spring and three times in summer, during his high school years. In 1992, he drew five consecutive intentional walks in a game at Koshien and became a nationwide topic in Japan at that time, even though the strategy worked and his team lost. Matsui graduated from Seiryo High School in Ishikawa and was drafted by the Yomiuri Giants in the first round. Based in Tokyo, the Giants are Japan's most famous and, by far, most successful baseball franchise. Coincidentally, Yomiuri are often referred to by fans and detractors alike as the "New York Yankees of the Japanese Baseball League."
A three-time MVP in the Japanese Central League, Matsui has been nicknamed "Godzilla", and has generated excitement among fans. He even has made a cameo in a Godzilla film, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. His hair style has prompted some of his Yankee teammates to jokingly refer to him as "Shemp". Many reporters and photographers have followed him from his home in Tokyo.
Matsui started every game with the Yankees in the 2004 season, extending his streak of consecutive games played to 325. Before that, he played in 1,573 consecutive games with Yomiuri. An all-star in each of his first two seasons with New York (2003 and 2004), the soft-spoken Matsui is a career .294 hitter with 68 home runs and 322 RBI.
In the 2005 regular-season, the Yankees have been forced to deal with keeping his 1500+ game streak alive. In a game against the Milwaukee Brewers when the Yankees left him out of the lineup, Japanese media hounded manager Joe Torre, wondering whether he would let the streak end, forcing him to let Matsui bat as a pinch hitter. Four games later, against the St. Louis Cardinals, Matsui sprained his ankle, but they left him in as a designated hitter, which he handled well, with 5 home runs and an American League Player of the Week honor.
Matsui's stance is somewhat eccentric because he does not place any movement on his bat. Nonetheless, his bat speed, good eye, and power -- as well as playing in Yankee Stadium, known for its short right field -- allow him to drive the ball far and hit home runs. Not used to the two-seam fastball because he did not see it in Japan, he can be known to ground out a lot, but has reduced his groundouts with experience.
- Japanese baseball
- 2003 World Series
- List of Japanese baseball players
- History of baseball outside the United States