Hideki Matsui returned to Japan on Friday for the first time since December, when he announced he was retiring from baseball after a 20-year career in Japan and in the majors.
The 38-year-old Matsui will be given a retirement ceremony by his first pro club, the Yomiuri Giants, at Tokyo Dome on Sunday afternoon, when he will receive the People’s Honor Award along with his first pro manager and Japan Hall of Famer Shigeo Nagashima.
Matsui hit 507 career home runs, 332 in Nippon Professional Baseball and 175 in the majors with the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays.
Upon his arrival at Narita airport, Matsui was greeted by roughly 300 fans and about 50 members of the media.
He is currently living in New York.
On Sunday, when Matsui throws out the ceremonial first pitch, Nagashima will be standing in the batter’s box.
Current Yomiuri Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara will catch the pitch, which in Japan is customarily swung at and missed, while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be on duty to determine whether it is a ball or strike.
The retirement ceremony will be held before the Giants’ game against the Hiroshima Carp. Matsui and Nagashima, his first manager with the Giants, will circle the field in an open car.
After that, both men will address the fans. According to the Giants, it will be Nagashima’s first public address to fans since he suffered a stroke in 2004.