- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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The number, 500 to be specific, doesn't matter to Hideki Matsui.
Sure, the Athletics outfielder and former Yankee became the first player to ever hit 500 home runs combined in MLB and the Japanese Leagues on Wednesday, but Matsui is remaining quite stoic about his accomplishment.
"I don't really put much significance on it because it's a combined number between Japan and the U.S.," Matsui said through an interpreter before the A's faced the Yankees at Yankee Stadium Friday night. "I appreciate the fact that everybody is celebrating and all the fans are celebrating and appreciating that."
On Wednesday against the Tigers, Matsui hit a solo shot to give him 500 home runs for his career. Matsui hit 332 home runs in Japan and has hit 168 home runs in MLB, swatting 140 with the Yankees, 21 with the Angels and seven this season with Oakland.
Only 25 MLB players have ever hit 500 home runs in their career and just eight in the Japanese Leagues have accomplished the feat. In seven season with the Yankees, Matsui hit .292 and drove in 724 runs and also was named the World Series MVP in 2009.
Matsui said he never thought about hitting his 500th home run this week. The lefty slugger said that the specific total of home runs just symbolize what he's done in the past and the important thing is to be ready for each day's game.
When looking back at all of his home runs in the United States, Matsui chose a home run he hit in pinstripes as his most memorable.
Said Matsui: "I think it's that very first home run that I hit at Yankee Stadium, which was the grand slam."
Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada, a teammate of Matsui's for seven years, also said he remembers that home run the most and spoke glowingly about Matsui as a teammate.
"One of the best clutch hitters I ever played with," Posada said. "A guy that drove in 100 every year and was a very consistent hitter. I hit behind him and I knew exactly what he was thinking. He would look for a pitch and he didn't miss that pitch. He was that good of a player."
While hitting 500 home runs is quite the feat, Matsui placed more emphasis on winning the World Series in 2009 when asked where the home runs rank in terms of his career accomplishments.
Said Matsui: "My ultimate goal was to win the World Series and that was on the goal I was able to accomplish."
The number, 500 to be specific, doesn't matter to Hideki Matsui.Sure, the Athletics outfielder and former Yankee became the first player to ever hit 500 home runs combined in MLB and the Japanese Leagues on Wednesday, but Matsui is remaining quite stoic about his accomplishment.