Some words of caution from Hideki Matsui’s father: His son will adjust to the big leagues, but it may take a little time.
Hideki Matsui, runs a museum dedicated to his son’s baseball career in Komatsu,
“Last season, he only hit about 10 or 12 homers by the end of June,” Masao Matsui said. “Then he went on a tear in July and August. He likes the hot weather.”
Masao does have some apprehension about how the New York Yankees’ outfielder will handle the cultural changes.
“Baseball is basically the same,” Masao said. “But the culture is totally different.”
Before Hideki left for the United States, Masao told him to study English so he can communicate with teammates.
Hideki regularly faxes his father’s office with updates from spring training.
He told us the one thing he wants now is to get a mobile phone,” Masao said. “But for some reason he hasn’t been able to get his hands on one yet.”
Masao is encouraged when he watches his son on TV.
“He looks like a kid again,” Masao said. “I haven’t seen him look so happy for years.”
Matsui’s father operates the Hideki Matsui Baseball Museum in Komatsu, a city of about 100,000 on the Japan Sea coast in Ishikawa Prefecture.
“I never pressured him to play baseball,” Masao said. “It was his dream from a very young age to become a professional player.”
With a satellite dish, Matsui was able to watch big league games.
“He was very impressed with the players, the ballparks, the whole atmosphere,” Masao said, adding that Hideki took particular interest in players like Mark McGwire.
Matsui finished with 50 homers for the Yomiuri Giants last season.
Masao said his son felt burdened leaving Japan’s most popular team, and that might explain his .148 average in November’s all-star tour against the major leaguers in Japan.
“He wasn’t getting much sleep during that tour,” Masao said. “He was taking a lot of calls and didn’t get to bed until after 2 a.m. on most nights.”
Masao plans a trip to Tampa, Fla., this month and will also travel to New York in April for games at Yankee Stadium.
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