The Olympic Opening Ceremony is underway with celebrity cameos galore. Former Yankee Hideki Matsui, who was selected to two All-Star teams over his decade-long tenure in MLB, joined fellow Japanese slugger Sadaharu Oh and tennis star Naomi Osaka (recently featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit issue) among several athletes honored as torchbearers in Tokyo.
Named World Series MVP for his six-RBI explosion in New York’s clinching Game 6 win over the Phillies in 2009, Matsui totaled 175 homers for his career, the most by a Japanese player in major-league history. Nicknamed “Godzilla,” the 47-year-old last played professionally for the Rays in 2012. The following year he signed a one-day contract with the Yankees, allowing him to finish his career with the organization he spent seven of his 10 MLB seasons with.
Fans, particularly of the Yankees, were pleased to see Matsui, who has kept a relatively low profile since retiring from MLB.
After being absent from the previous two Olympics, baseball will return to the 2020 Summer Games with the United States, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Israel, South Korea and host country Japan among this year’s participants. Team USA, led by big-league veterans Todd Frazier, Scott Kazmir and Edwin Jackson (Yankees alum Tyler Austin will also be making the trip to Tokyo), begin play in their Group B opener next Friday versus Israel.