Hideki Matsui Retires From Baseball After 20-Year Career

Hideki Matsui has announced his retirement from baseball after a career spanning two decades.

Matsui, the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 World Series with the New York Yankees, has spent 20 years as a baseball pro in Japan and the US. During his ten years in Major League Baseball, the Japanese slugger notched up 175 home runs, 760 runs batted in and 547 walks, comfortably the most for any Japanese player.

Speaking at a press conference in New York on Thursday, Hideki Matsui told assembled reporters:

“I want to thank all my fans, in the past 20 years – ten years in Japan and ten years in the US – who have supported me. I was supported by many fans and wonderful coaches and teammates.”

The 38-year-old said his retirement had been forced by his ailing knees, which he in turn blamed for his declining performances. Matsui said:

“These past two years, I wasn’t able to yield very good results, and from around five years ago, both of my knees hadn’t been doing too well. Even after going through surgery, my physical condition wasn’t at its best.”

Matsui, who finishes his major-league career with a .282 batting average, was a nine-time All-Star and three-time MVP in Japan’s Central League. In 2003, he arrived in Major League Baseball, joining the Yankees in 2003. After eight years in New York, Matsui joined the Oakland Athletics, where he hit .251 with 12 homers and 72 RBI in his last full season.

Matsui was offered a contract with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, playing 34 games before being released in August.

However, it is Matsui’s time with the Yankees that most fans will remember. In four of his first five seasons, the Japanese struck more than 100 runs and was an All-Star pick in both 2003 and 2004. He also played a major role in the Yankees’ most recent World Series title in 2009, racking up eight hits in 13 at-bats in the championship series against the Philadelphia Phillies, as well as grabbing three home runs and eight RBI.

Hideki Matsui blasted over 20 homers in a season no fewer than five times in his Major League career, peaking in 2004 when he hit 31 for the Yankees.

Here are some of the most memorable images and footage from Hideki Matsui’s career: