Saturday, November 17, 2018

Kazuo Matsui

Kazuo Matsui recently announced he was retiring after a 25 year career split between NPB and MLB.  Matsui was originally a third round pick of the Lions out of PL Gakuen High School in the 1993 draft.  He debuted with the ichi-gun Lions in 1995 and remained a mainstay in their lineup until he left for MLB after the 2003 season.  He signed with the New York Mets as a free agent and played for them for 2 1/2 seasons before he was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Eli Marrero midway through the 2006 season.  He played for the Rockies until the end of the 2007 season and appeared in the post season with them that year, including playing in the World Series against a Red Sox team that included his former Lions teammate Daisuke Matsuzaka.  He signed with the Astros for the 2008 season and spent a little bit more than the next two seasons with them.  He was released by Houston in May of 2010 and rejoined the Rockies for the remainder of that season although he spent all his time with their Triple-A team in Colorado Springs.  He returned to Japan for the 2011 season, joining the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.  He spent seven years in Sendai before returning to the Lions for a final go-round this year.  He'll become the Lions farm team manager next season.

Matsui lead the Pacific League in hit twice (1999, 2002) and stolen bases three times (1997-99).  He was Pacific League MVP in 1998.  He was named to the Best 9 team seven times - consecutively from 1997 to 2003.  He also won four Golden Glove awards (1997-98, 2002-03).  He's a member of the Meikyukai having reached his 2000th hit (including his MLB hits) in August of 2009.  He made the All Star team nine times (1997-2003, 2013 and 2015) and played in four Nippon Series - three in losing efforts with the Lions (1997, 1998 and 2002) and one with the Eagles in which they won (2013).  He also played for the Japanese National Team twice - the Asian Championship in 2003 which was a qualifier for the 2004 Olympics (which he did not play in since he was with the Mets then) and the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

I've previously done a "retrospective" post for Matsui over three years ago when he got his 2000th career NPB hit so I'll show a different batch of his cards now:

1997 BBM Nippon Series #S45

1998 BBM #539

2000 BBM #13

2001 Lions Fan Club #7

2011 Bandai Owners League 02 #063

2013 Calbee #AS-19

2013 Topps Tribute WBC Edition #59

2014 BBM Rookie Edition Classic #01

2015 Eagles Team Set #SS1-11

2018 BBM 1st Version #046

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