Retired New York Yankees greats Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui are teaming up once again, this time in support of children in the Tohoku region.
The former MLB All-Stars will participate in the Tomodachi Charity Baseball Game on March 21, 2015, at Tokyo Dome, an event designed to help support children still feeling the effects of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. The event is being held in conjunction with the Support Our Kids Project, a program in which the embassies of nine countries and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Japan assist children from the affected areas.
“As time passes, even a disaster as terrible and devastating as the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami begins to be forgotten,” Matsui said during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo on Wednesday. “I think this is something people in Japan should not forget. If I’m able to somehow use my influence to try to focus attention on this area again, I hope to do so.”
The two stars are scheduled to host a baseball clinic for about 500 children aged 10-12 on the afternoon of March 21. They’ll be in opposing dugouts later that night for a game between a group of American students, with Jeter serving as manager, and a team of students from the Tohoku region led by Matsui.
Jeter was not present at the news conference but said in recorded remarks that he was excited to return to Japan with Matsui and take part in the event.
Following the charity game, Jeter and Matsui will close out the festivities by competing in a home run derby.
“He has an advantage over me in that he was an active player until earlier this year, whereas I’ve been retired for a little longer,” joked Matsui, who played his final game in 2012. “However, I would like to take full advantage of the home field advantage and be able to win.”
Jeter and Matsui were teammates for seven years with the Yankees. Together the pair helped lead the Yankees to the American League pennant in 2003 and 2009, with the latter of those two seasons culminating in a World Series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Matsui, who homered and drove in six runs in the decisive Game 6, was named World Series MVP.
“He was a wonderful teammate,” Matsui said of Jeter. “I believe what he will contribute to this event will be enormous. When you think about the small children who will be participating, anyone who likes baseball certainly knows the name Derek Jeter. The fact that they’ll be able to actually see him and touch him, just being able to feel his aura, is going to impact them in a very positive way.”
The Tomodachi Charity Baseball Committee’s goal is to use the event to help support the continued revival of the area and also connect with the children, who will one day grow up and play vital roles in the area.
“What we hope to be able to instill within these children, as they come to the event, is that if they try something, they can probably achieve it,” said Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, who was described by Morinaga president Toru Arai, whose company is the main sponsor of the event, as the event’s general manager.
“If they can feel even a little more confidence about their ambitions, that would be a wonderful thing.”
Rangers sign Fujikawa
Arlington, Texas — Former Hanshin Tigers relief ace Kyuji Fujikawa has signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers, the American League club said Tuesday.
The 34-year-old right-hander became a free agent when the Chicago Cubs did not pick up their option for a third season after Fujikawa went 1-1 with two saves and a 5.04 earned run average over two, injury-plagued seasons.
His new contract is for $1 million with additional performance-based incentives and includes a club option for 2016.
Fujikawa, who had Tommy John surgery after 12 big league games in 2013 and returned to pitch 15 games in 2014, spoke to reporters over the phone.
“It’s a lot better than before the surgery,” said Fujikawa, who will be reunited with Rangers ace Yu Darvish, his teammate at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
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