It's fan appreciation day in Yankee Stadium for Angels DH Hideki Matsui
Hideki Matsui received a rousing standing ovation in Yankee Stadium onTuesday when the Angels designated hitter, who earned World Series most valuable player honors with the Yankees last fall, was presented with a World Series ring in a ceremony before the Yankees home opener against the Angels.
After the entire Yankees team had been introduced and presented with rings by Manager Joe Girardi and Hall of Famers Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra, Yankees television broadcaster John Sterling, who served as master of ceremonies for the event, said, "We still have one more ring left."
Matsui, standing in the Angels' dugout, appeared on the huge video board in center field, and the crowd went wild. When Matsui came to the infield to pick up his ring, he was cheered as loud as any Yankees regular, including Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
Matsui, who drove in six runs in the Yankees' World Series Game 6 clinching victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, doffed his cap to the crowd in appreciation, and the entire Yankees team then engulfed Matsui and exchanged hugs with their former teammate.
"I am deeply moved by this," Matsui said in a statement released by the team. "I am deeply grateful to all the fans and the Yankees organization."
In a press conference before the ring ceremony, Matsui was asked if he thought New York fans might be a little unsure how to respond to seeing him in Angels red.
"I don't think Yankees fans will be confused at all -- they want their team to win," Matsui said through an interpreter. "Having said that, I would like to offer my gratitude for the fans here for supporting me for seven years. Hopefully, I will express that during the ring ceremony."
Most of the Angels players and coaches watched the ceremony from the third-base dugout, a bittersweet experience because they were eliminated by the Yankees in a six-game American League championship series in October.
"Certainly, there's a little bit of envy when you had a chance to put your name on a ring and you didn't get there," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "But the Yankees were a good team. They deserved it. And they're a great bunch of guys. I understand what it was like for us [to win the World Series] in 2002, and you have to appreciate how hard they worked to get a championship."
--Mike DiGiovanna in New York
Photo: Hideki Matsui is embraced by former Yankees teammate Alex Rodriguez after Matsui received his 2009 World Series ring before the Yankees played the Angels in New York on Tuesday. Credit: Peter Morgan / Associated Press.