Matsui, Damon suit up for Old-Timers' Day
June, 22, 2014
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesSpirit of 2009: Matsui focuses on Damon (and Jesse Barfield) during pregame prep.NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees wouldn’t have won the 2009 World Series without the contributions of both Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. Matsui had six RBIs in the championship-clincher, while Damon stole two bases on a single pitch in Game 4.
Seems like just yesterday, doesn’t it? Well, five years later, both Matsui and Damon are appearing in their first Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium.
“It means a lot to me,” Damon said Sunday. “I was very fortunate to be blessed to be able to win a championship here, and because of that I can show my face here as much as I’d like.”
Asked what his favorite memories in pinstripes were, Matsui said, “The one that really stands out is Game 7 of the ALCS in 2003. And that’s something I obviously have my personal choices, but as a team that was something that really stands out, and I could never forget it. On a personal level, the grand slam in my first Yankee Stadium Opening Day in my first year, and the World Series in ’09. But those are the ones that really stand out.”
Matsui was a two-time All-Star in his seven seasons in the Bronx. He won the 2009 World Series MVP award after batting .615 with three home runs and eight RBIs in the Fall Classic.
Damon hit .285 in four years with the Yankees and had an OPS of .821.
Joked Matsui: “If I play in a beer league right now, it might be cheating a little bit, so I may wait a couple more years to consider it, but I’m just relaxing and enjoying my retirement.”
Damon was hoping to get a call to play last season, but it never came. He hasn’t announced his retirement, but plans to officially do so after spring training next season.
“I’m probably in better soccer condition now,” Damon said.
Matsui received a nice ovation when he was introduced to the crowd -- as did Damon.