Former Yankee Matsui takes off at charity event in Greenwich

With an amount of international media invading the first hole at Tamarack Country Club in Greenwich on Monday morning, you might expect a Head of State to be in attendance.

It was not the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga that the assembled press expected, but rather someone who could have even more influence in Japan in the former Yomiuri Giant and the great New York Yankee Hideki Matsui.

As the cameras clicked, Matsui walked over to the tee where he posed for photos for over half an hour with other golfers during the 2021 Champion A Champion Golf Classic to benefit the Global Citizens Initiative and the Matsui 55 Baseball Foundation.

Global Citizens Initiative is a non-profit social enterprise that works directly with students and educators with the goal of empowering young citizens around the world.

The goal of Matsui 55 is to get as many young people as possible to learn the joy of playing baseball and develop a passion for the game, while promoting the importance of critical thinking.

The charity was founded by Matsui in 2015 with the goal of giving back to the game of baseball and the fans who have supported him throughout his career.

“I’m always happy to share the baseball experience with as many kids as possible,” Matsui said through a performer. “I grew up in a small town and have never met famous baseball stars, but now I feel lucky that I can do it on my own. I want kids to have a passion for baseball. At the end of my career, I wanted to give back to baseball, which gave me the opportunity to share my passion with the youngsters.

Along with Matsui, former Yankees Jim Leyritz, Tino Martinez, Tanyon Sturtze and Mike Pagliarulo were among the golfers, as were Mets TV announcer and former pitcher Ron Darling and Stamford mayoral candidate Bobby Valentine.

Valentine is a Japanese media favorite after leading the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball to a championship.

Valentine is still able to speak Japanese when speaking to the press, holding court for several minutes, and answering various questions.

Valentine remembers when he first saw Matsui in Japan.

“It was in an all-star game in Japan and my good friend said to me ‘do you see him? He’s going to break Sadaharu Oh’s home run record, ”said Valentine. “Hideki had a good arm and a great ability to run. And of course, he’s one of the all-time great hitters playing in any league. He’s a great player.

Matsui said he has always enjoyed Valentine as a manager very much, starting with his first term as manager of Chiba Lotte in 1995.

By the time Valentine returned to Japan in 2004, Matsui was playing in New York City.

Matsui’s first year with the Yankees was 2003, a season after Valentine was fired from the Mets.

“The first time Bobby was in Japan I was still playing there, the second time I was already here with the Yankees,” Matsui said. “He was a great manager for Chiba. He was very much loved by the fans there. His style and personality match Chiba very well. The year before his arrival, the team was not doing very well. Its first year, the team finished in second place. I think he fitted in very well there and they welcomed him as a manager with open arms.

Later that evening, after a day of golf and dinner, Valentine would join in for a fireside chat with Joe Torre, moderated by Bob Costas, discussing the 2000 World Series between the Yankees and the Mets as the 21st birthday of The Subway Series Approaches.

“In 2000, many dreams came true. In 1997 we started playing between the leagues and people saw the Yankees and Mets play games that mattered, ”said Valentine. “Before that the only time they played was at the Mayor’s Cup in the 70s. The last game of spring training would be the Yankees and the Mets and I can tell you my owners wanted to win that game. in pre-season more than they wanted to tow in regular games. When we finally met in the World Series, the city was alive with baseball. “

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