FORT LEE, N.J. -- The sound of aluminum bats and cheers of "Godzilla" echoed through the New Jersey borough of Fort Lee on Saturday morning as former Yankees All-Star and 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui hosted a baseball clinic for local youth through his Matsui 55 Baseball foundation.Nearly 40
FORT LEE, N.J. -- The sound of aluminum bats and cheers of "Godzilla" echoed through the New Jersey borough of Fort Lee on Saturday morning as former Yankees All-Star and 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui hosted a baseball clinic for local youth through his Matsui 55 Baseball foundation.
Nearly 40 children from the Fort Lee American Little League, spanning ages 6-12, donned special event T-shirts and took to J. Richard Radoian Field for nearly three hours of hands-on instruction from Matsui and his staff.
"I had so many wonderful experiences through the game of baseball," said Matsui through translator Tak Mihara. "It is my passion for kids of a younger generation to have that same experience through baseball."
Matsui added, "I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to interact with kids that have a passion for baseball."
The 44-year-old Matsui played seven seasons with the Yankees from 2003-09 before concluding his career with a trio of one-year stints with the Los Angeles Angels (2010), Oakland Athletics (2011) and Tampa Bay Rays (2012).
During the first 10 years of his career in Japan, Matsui penned a storied legacy that is rivaled by very few that have ever played the sport in the country. A 2018 Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame honoree, Matsui realizes that he has made a very distinct global impact, which is why he feels the need to give back through his foundation in both places.
The Matsui 55 Baseball Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization that was founded by Matsui in April 2015 to give back to the game of baseball and the fans that supported him throughout his 20-year career. The foundation carries a mission of promoting youth baseball by hosting clinics in New York, Los Angeles and Japan.
The kids that were invited to the clinic on Saturday were split into different groups and put through a series of stretches, in addition to infield and outfield drills. When that concluded, the groups were then scattered to hitting stations that included tee work, soft toss and live batting practice.
When the children ultimately reached their final hitting drill, it was Matsui that was huddled behind the pitching screen to toss a round of BP to each participant. An encouraging chant of "Attaboy" could be heard from the two-time MLB All-Star after each youngster impressed him with a hit.
Teaching younger players is something that Matsui has learned to embrace in his current position as a special advisor to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. In that role, one that he has held since 2015, Matsui typically roves around to New York's Minor League affiliates throughout the season to impart advice on various aspects of hitting to the player development and coaching staff.
"Since I retired, I have a lot more time now," Matsui said. "I want more kids to play baseball. But, I really thank the Yankees for my time there, so I wanted to give back to the organization."
Before the clinic had concluded with a photograph and autograph session, Matsui reached into the pockets of his gray track suit and pulled out a pair of batting gloves in preparation to take a few hacks himself. With spectators gathered up the first and third-base lines, Matsui dazzled the onlooking crowd with a few home runs over the left-field wall as they chanted his name.
Matt Kardos is a contributor to MLB.com.