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MVP Hideki Matsui and the New York Yankees rocked the Phillies world to win World Series - (Keith Allison Photo)



SPORTS NOTES - Japanese Fire Works - MVP Hideki Matsui helps Yankees Win World Series

James Loving/National Radio Text Service


World Series MVP Hideki Matsui overcame bad knees and ignited a spark for his club with an outstanding performance going 8 for 13 with three homers and eight RBIs for a .615 batting average the highest in the series


Friday November 6, 2009


The New York Yankees did it again for the 27th time in winning baseballs most coveted crown the World Series title. The Yankees took the best of seven game series in just six games (4-2) by defeating defending World Series champions Philadelphia Phillies with a 7-3 victory and winning their first World Series title since 2000.

The title was earned by all but Japanese sensation Hideki Matsui overcame bad knees and ignited a spark for his club with an outstanding performance going 8 for 13 with three homers and eight RBIs for a .615 batting average the highest in the series with teammate Derek Jeter second highest with a .407. His six RBI's in the title winning game tied a World Series record for most RBI's in a game. The result being that Matsui's performance earned him the series MVP Award and enhanced the positive reputation of Japanese players in the league.

His success is a contrast of the portrayal of Japanese players in the MLB by a sports talk host in Los Angeles, California USA in 1998. The sportscaster derided Japanese players with the focus being Hideo Nomo who at that time was traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the New York Mets.

Another sports radio type called in to the program to say that Nomo was not in good graces with then Dodgers owner Rupert Murdoch. In part Nomo's not speaking English was an issue. Matsui also speaks through an interpreter.

The racist bent program incensed many of the listeners and turned out to be a hoax as the caller was a friend of the show's host and it was a set-up. The host and his friend had a good laugh and further demonstrated the racist attitudes that permeate America.

The first Japanese baseball player to appear in an MLB game was Masanori Murakami, a relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants in 1964 and 1965. He did not start a trend; it would be thirty years until Nomo became the second Japanese player in Major League Baseball. Nomo, with two no-hitter games, is the only Japanese pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Major League Baseball.

Nomo is one of only five players that have ever pitched at least one no-hitter game in both the National League and American League in Major League Baseball history. Nomo's immediate success led to more Japanese players coming to America, a trend that has accelerated in recent years.

Ichiro Suzuki Seattle Mariners (2001-present) and Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox are two of the most successful of the 17 Japanese players in the MLB today. They were members of two World Baseball Classic title winning teams

Matsui joins the list of Japanese players on championship World Series teams which includes So Taguchi: 2004 Cardinals, 2006 Cardinals, 2008 Phillies (on WS roster, but did not play), Tadahito Iguchi: 2005 White Sox, Hideki Okajima: 2007 Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka: 2007 Red Sox.

Japanese players who appeared in the World Series on teams that didn't win the title include Akinori Iwamura: 2008 Rays, Tsuyoshi Shinjo: 2002 Giants and Matsui on the 2003 Yankees.

MLB All-star selections of Japanese players include Kosuke Fukudome, 2008 NL, Matsui, twice, 2003-04 AL, Ichiro Suzuki, 8 times, 2001-08 AL as well as pitchers Shigetoshi Hasegawa, 2003 AL, Nomo, 1995 NL, Hideki Okajima, 2007 AL, Takashi Saito, 2007 NL and Kazuhiro Sasaki, twice, 2002-03 AL.

The Japanese have excelled in what is deemed to be America's game since the Little League World Series in the 1960's. At every level they have excelled while speaking English or not.

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