Updated January 15, 2003
Matsui's enormous press conference
On Jan 14 in New York, Hideki Matsui held his official press conference to announce that he's a member of the Yankees. It attracted 350 people from the media. Reports say it's the biggest ever conference for the Yankees for its rookie. He wore the pin-striped uniform and chuckles in delight. Matsui will return to Japan once before returning to New York to prepare for the season.
Matsui leaves for New York
Japan's well-loved star left for New York on Jan 9. It's Hideki Matsui. He was sent off by hundreds of fans at the airport, and as he made his way to the security area, he waved back at the wellwishers.
Nakamura is highest paid Japanese player
On Jan 8, Norihiro Nakamura signed an annual contract for 500 million yen with the Buffaloes. Since Hideki Matsui has left the Japanese league he has become the highest paid among Japanese players in Japan.
Nakamura drops Mets for the Buffaloes
Japanese slugger Norihiro Nakamura whom many were speculating would sign a 2-year deal for 2 million dollars with the New York Mets announced on Dec 21 that he will stay with the Kintetsu Buffaloes.
Matsui ready to sign with the Yankees
It was learned on Dec 19 that the Yankees offered Hideki Matsui a 3 year contract worth 21 million dollars. And on Dec 20, Matsui held a press conference himself to officially announce that he's ready to head for New York.
Irabu and Rose to return to Japan
The Hanshin Tigers announced on Dec 7 that it has acquired 33 year old Hideki Irabu. It's the first time in 7 years that Irabu will play in Japan. He was with the Texas Rangers. It will be a one year contract for 250 million yen. Meanwhile, Bobby Rose who played for the Yokohama BayStars for from 1993 to 2000 have signed a one year deal with the Chiba Lotte Marines. Rose was RBI king once.
Mariners vs Athletics
It's official. Seattle Mariner will play Oakland Athletics for its first 2 games in Japan. It was announced on Nov 21. They will hold games on Mar 25 and 26 at the Tokyo Dome.
MLB player named in Japan draft
Mac Suzuki who's played for the Kansas City Royals during the past season was named the 2nd draft choice for the Orix Blue Wave on Nov 20. It's the first time in Japanese baseball history that a former MLB player is named. Mac was reported to have wished to join the Swallows, but the Swallows plan was to name him only in the 4th round.
Petagine reaches agreement with Giants
It was learned on Nov 19 that Roberto Petagine together with his agent, agreed to join the Tokyo Giants. It's estimated that the Giants offered a 2 year contract worth 12 million dollars with additional benefits. It's widely viewed that the Giants have acquired Petagine to replace Hideki Matsui.
Petagine leaves Swallows
It was learned on Nov 11 that Yakult Swallows decided to free Roberto Petagine. Petagine, from Venezuela recorded more than 30 homers for 4 straight years, and won the homerun title twice. It's believed that several Central League teams, including the Giants will approach him.
Giants attract crowd during victory parade
The Giants held a motorcade starting from Yomiuri Shimbun building in Otemachi, the business district of Tokyo to Ginza from 10:30 am on Nov 4. The players and coaches were showered with flashes and shouts of excitement from fans. Hideki Matsui who announced his decision to play in MLB next season was seen waving to fans with seriousness. While NHK reports that the motorcade drew 290,000, NTV says 400,000. What's clear is, it's rare to see Ginza so jammed.
Matsui decides to go to MLB
The Giants Hideki Matsui unveiled during a press conference on Nov 1 that he will become a free agent, and try to win a contract with a US Major League team for the coming season. Matsui is regarded as Japan's best slugger and is the best paid baseball played in Japan earning 610 million yen for the just finished season. Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara told reporters that its too bad Matsui will leave the Giants because he believed that he'd stay.
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