By Jerry Del Priore
There was a Godzilla sighting yesterday in Staten Island.
No, not the Japanese movie monster, but former New York Yankee great Hideki Matsui, who, along with his Matsui 55 Baseball Foundation, hosted a baseball clinic for approximately 30 children ages 11-12 from local baseball leagues Saturday morning at Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George, home the Staten Island Yankees, the short-season Class A affiliate of the Yankees.
The clinic featured tips and instructions in infield and outfield fielding, as well as hitting and running the bases. Plus, warmups, which included running a lap around the outside of the field and different stretches to prepare the children’s bodies for a day of fun and informative baseball activities.
Matsui, a former Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball for 10 seasons, even threw batting practice to the children, whom the 2009 World Series MVP’s presence seemed to awestruck them.
Additionally, the children were able to ask Matsui, who gardened the nickname Godzilla for his monstrous long balls, questions regarding his baseball childhood, and career.
Coming from a small area in Japan called Nomi, Matsui, 45, said he relished the opportunity to impart his baseball wisdom on the wide-eyed youngsters, and loved the setting, and atmosphere, at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.
“I feel very happy that I can share this experience and I hope that the kids can get to have more passion for baseball,” the Japanese Baseball Hall of Famer said through an interpreter. “And being able to be here, in this minor league environment, which was amazing.
“I grew up in a small town, so I didn’t really have a chance to meet many baseball starts,” the ten-year former major leaguer added. “But now I feel very honored to be able to this myself, and for the kids to have a passion for baseball, is what I really want.”
Established on April 13, 2015, the Matsui 55 Baseball Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization founded by Matsui as a way to give back to the game of baseball and his fans who supported him throughout his career.
The Matsui 55 Baseball Foundation has hosted baseball clinics for children in Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, and Japan.
Watch the video as the children offering up predictions on how many homers Godzilla will smash in his turn up at the plate.