A pre-retirement Q&A with Hideki Matsui
A rainout back in May spoiled that plan somewhat, but it was a stroke of fortune that Matsui's day came when the Yankees were playing the Tampa Bay Rays, the team "Godzilla" took his final Major League at-bat for 371 days prior.
It was a whirlwind day for Matsui, who signed both his contract and his retirement papers in about a 90-minute span and then threw out the ceremonial first pitch once he was formally retired - but in his final hour as an official Yankee, "Godzilla" held a Q&A with the media that both re-lived his baseball past and looked ahead to his future now that his time in the game is truly done.
Below is a transcript of Matsui's final press conference as a Yankee, with questions fielded from both the American and Japanese media in attendance.
Q: What are the things you learned as a player while playing for the New York Yankees?
Matsui: "I think there are a lot of things I learned here, but the one thing that sticks out is focusing on winning a championship and doing everything I needed to do to win."
Q: What are your most memorable moments as a Yankee?
Matsui: "Certainly, winning the World Series in 2009 is something that stands out in my memory, but just as much in terms of impression was 2003, Game 7 of the American League Championship Series."
Q: How can you describe the first day when you were signed by the Yankees?
Matsui: "I think that particular moment, looking back, was the greatest moment of my career and one of the greatest moments of my life."
Q: In 10 years living in the Unites States, what was your experience like and how have you changed personally and/or professionally?
Matsui: "There are a lot of things that influenced me, both personally and professionally, so it's hard to pinpoint one thing that stands out, but certainly the moments that I spent here in New York by far exceeds everything."
Q: Derek Jeter called you one of his favorite teammates of all-time. How does that make you feel?
Matsui: "Coming from someone like him, first and foremost I have the utmost respect for Derek, and coming from someone like him, it's quite an honor. As a player, to be respected in that way, I'm very grateful, and I have the same feeling towards him as well."
Q: It seems Yankees fans have the same respect for you as Derek Jeter does. Coming here 10 years ago and not knowing what to expect or what would happen, what are your thoughts on the Yankees fans who have shown you that respect?
Matsui: "I honestly don't know how the fans really feel about me, but if they truly feel that way about me, then I'm honored. I didn't really try to do anything in particular, all I really focused on was doing everything necessary to win the World Series. As a result of what I portrayed from that, if the fans felt something for me, there's nothing greater than that."
Q: You're wearing a pinstriped tie…was your choice of clothing intentional?
Matsui: "This is pinstriped? (laughs) If I was more conscious about it, I may have chosen something that more resembled pinstripes (laughs again)."
Q: Do you have any future plans laid out? Do you plan to keep baseball in your future?
Matsui: "I don't really have any specific plans right now. I played 10 years in Japan and 10 in the U.S., including seven wonderful years here with the Yankees, so if I can make use of that experience in some manner, I think that would be great; I just don't have anything specific lined up."
Q: This will be the last time that you stand on a baseball field as a player…what are your thoughts and emotions right now?
Matsui: "I think this moment will be a moment I will never forget. To be able to retire as a member of the Yankees I aspired to play for, there's nothing more fulfilling."
Q: What are your thoughts and impressions about the Yankees this year?
Matsui: "I haven't been following the team entirely, but certainly many of the players are injured, and I think that's one of the biggest challenges this year for this team."
Q: There are a lot of Japanese fans outside the ballpark waiting to come in this morning. What do you anticipate when you see those fans and what will your reaction be?
Matsui: "I think it will be a combination of nostalgia and joy when I see those fans wearing No. 55 perhaps. At the same time I will be kind of impressed by the fact that they never threw it away and kept it all this time."
Q: There are a lot of fans watching and attending the game here today. What would you like to portray to them?
Matsui: "I'm just going to be myself, and hopefully (the fans) can sort of bring about some great memories of when I used to play."