Daisuke Matsuzaka

A photo of Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (松坂 大輔 Matsuzaka Daisuke?, born September 13, 1980) ("Dice-K") is a Japanese starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He previously played for the Seibu Lions in Japan's Pacific League. He was selected the MVP of the 2006 World Baseball Classic and is an Olympic bronze medalist.[1]


Early life and high school daysEdit

He was born on September 13, 1980, in Kanita, Higashitsugaru District, Aomori, Japan. Aomori is his mother's hometown. After a month, he then moved to his father's home in Koto, Tokyo, so his player profile says he is from Tokyo even though he was born in Aomori. After excelling at the Little League and junior high level, Daisuke Matsuzaka was admitted into Yokohama High School, a baseball powerhouse, in the spring of 1996. By his second year (Japanese high schools consist of three years), he had developed into the school's ace pitcher. Despite his early success, he would experience a setback that summer when he allowed a go-ahead wild pitch in the semi-final game of the Kanagawa Prefecture preliminary round of the National High School Baseball Championship (Summer Koshien). Hungry for redemption, Matsuzaka trained fervently during the off-season. It was about that time that his fastballs started to regularly clock in at around Template:Convert/mi/hTemplate:Convert/track/abbr/onTemplate:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/ and he was given the nickname, "The Monster". After easily pitching his school to the championship of the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament (Spring Koshien), Matsuzaka set his aim on the 1998 Summer Koshien. He would go on to become a national hero in this tournament after pitching in three particularly memorable games, and, eventually, leading his school to the championship.

Baseball players who were born in the 1980 academic year (from April 2, 1980 to the following April 1, 1981) have been called the Matsuzaka generation (松坂世代 Matsuzaka sedai?) in Japan.

The legendary 3 days at the 1998 summer KoshienEdit

In the quarterfinal of that year's Summer Koshien, Matsuzaka threw 250 pitches in 17 innings in a win over powerhouse PL Gakuen. (The previous day he had thrown a 148-pitch complete game shutout.) The next day though trailing 6-0 in the top of the eighth inning, the team miraculously won the game by scoring 7 runs in the last two innings (four in the eighth and three in the ninth). In that game he started in left field, but came in as a reliever in the ninth inning to record the win in 15 pitches. In the final, he threw a no-hitter, the second ever in a final. This performance not only elevated him to rock star status but also garnered him the attention of many scouts. After graduating from high school, he was taken by the Seibu Lions with the first pick of the 1998 draft, although both the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks of the American Major Leagues also recruited him.[2]

Before the pro draft in Japan, Matsuzaka officially stated to the press that he did not want to play for any team besides the Yokohama BayStars or possibly the Yomiuri Giants. If any other team drafted him, Matsuzaka stated that he would go to college then choose the team of his choice through the reverse-draft/gyaku-shimei system. Thus, when the Seibu Lions earned the exclusive rights to negotiate with him, Matsuzaka was prepared to turn them down. That changed however, when the manager of the Lions, Osamu Higashio, an accomplished pitcher in his own right, met with Matsuzaka for dinner and gave his winning ball for career win number 200. Matsuzaka accepted it and allowed himself to be drafted by the Lions.

Professional career Edit

Nippon Professional Baseball Edit

Awards in Japan
Awards 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
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Matsuzaka won his first official pro game in his first start of the 1999 season against the Nippon Ham Fighters at the Tokyo Dome. His first career strikeout came against Kataoka Atsushi in the first inning on a high fastball clocked at 155 km/h. Later in the same game, sparks flew when Matsuzaka pitched high and inside to an opposing batter who then started to charge the mound because he thought the 18 year old was showing him up. Fellow Lions pitcher Denny protected Matsuzaka from any harm and screamed a few expletives at the batter for good measure.

On May 16 1999, when Matsuzaka was in his rookie season at age 18, he first faced Ichiro Suzuki, a star playing for the Orix Bluewave at the time, and recorded 3 strikeouts in 3 at bats with a walk:[3] the first on a fast-ball looking, the next on a high slider swinging, then last on a high fastball swinging. Matsuzaka states that this game was the moment he started to believe that he "belonged" in pro baseball. However, Ichiro would get a bit of revenge on Matsuzaka by hitting his 100th career home run off him in July of that year (footage below).

Matsuzaka would start in the All-Star game as a rookie in 1999, and there was much speculation that he would strike out 9 straight batters just as several great pitchers did before him, such as Yutaka Enatsu. Popular comedy duo Downtown's Masatoshi Hamada even showed up as a guest in the broadcast booth to cheer Matsuzka on. However, he only struck out Takuro Ishii and Takanori Suzuki of the Bay Stars before number three hitter Yoshinobu Takahashi of the Giants managed to make contact and fly out to left field.

In his first professional season in 1999, Matsuzaka had 16 wins and 5 losses as the team ace, and was voted Rookie of the Year. Another rookie pitcher in the rival Central League, Koji Uehara, also won the same honor with a 20-win season. Together, they would come to represent their respective leagues as dominant starting pitchers for seasons to come.

Matsuzaka gave up his first pro home run in a Spring training game to Taiho Yasuaki of the Hanshin Tigers in 1999. The first home run he gave up in an official game was to Michihiro Ogasawara of the Nippon Ham Fighters. Both came on high fastballs.

In 2000, Matsuzaka had 14 wins and 7 losses. He had 15 wins and 15 losses in his 2001 season and won the Sawamura Award.

Matsuzaka spent a considerable portion of his 2002 season on the disabled list, which did not count toward his service time. He wasn't able to regain his pitching form in the 2002 Japan Series, when the Lions faced the Giants. In Game 1 at Tokyo Dome, where the designated hitter rule is not allowed, Matsuzaka batted 7th in the lineup to take advantage of his above-average hitting for a pitcher. However, not only did Matsuzaka not fare well at the plate in this game, but he also helped the Giants to a rout by giving up two key home runs. One was to extremely popular Giants first baseman Kazuhiro Kiyohara, who hit a middle-of-the-plate Matsuzaka fastball off one of the billboards at the back of the left field stands (That footage can be seen in the external links section). Matsuzaka would give up another key RBI to Kiyohara in game 4 in relief, as the Lions were meekly swept by the Giants in the series.

In 2003, Matsuzaka logged 16 wins and 7 losses. He easily won the Pacific League ERA title with a 2.83 mark. Matsuzaka used to play for Japan's National Baseball Team, and pitched against South Korea.

All-Star Game of Nippon Professional Baseball 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 (MVP), 2005, 2006

2004 Olympic GamesEdit

Template:MedalTop Template:MedalSport Template:MedalCountry Template:MedalBronze Template:MedalBottom He participated in the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece and was a key player in Japan winning the bronze medal.

2006 World Baseball Classic Edit

In 2006, Matsuzaka pitched for Japan in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. He was crowned the MVP of the first ever World Baseball Classic after Team Japan defeated Team Cuba 10-6 in the finals. Matsuzaka, the winner of the finale, frustrated his opposition by tossing 4 innings of 1 run baseball before exiting. Overall, Matsuzaka pitched a total of 13 innings throughout the tournament while finishing with 3 wins and no losses.

Major League transitionEdit

On October 25, 2006, Scott Boras was announced as Matsuzaka's agent to represent him in any contract dealings in the Major Leagues. On November 2, Matsuzaka was officially granted permission by the Lions to pursue a career in Major League Baseball via the posting system.

On November 14, the Boston Red Sox won the bidding rights to Matsuzaka with a bid of $51,111,111.11, outbidding the Texas Rangers, New York Mets, and New York Yankees.[4][5][6] The Red Sox had 30 days to sign Matsuzaka to a contract. If a deal could not be reached, Matsuzaka would have returned to the Lions, nullifying the bid. Scott Boras refused to consider the posting fee as part of the contract negotiations, while Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein recalled, "We tried to come up with a total number, for the post and contract, that made sense."[7] On December 11, Epstein, Red Sox owner John W. Henry and CEO Larry Lucchino boarded a plane to "[take] the fight directly to [Boras]".[8] Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe asserted that Boras, by refusing to negotiate, was using Matsuzaka as a protest or "test case of the posting system."[8]

On December 13, Matsuzaka and Boras joined Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, CEO Larry Lucchino, and Chairman Tom Werner on a private plane owned by Red Sox owner John Henry headed for Boston. During the flight—which was followed by both the Boston and the Japanese media[9]—the group agreed to terms on a contract. Journalist Nobuhiro Chiba characterized Japanese reaction to the signing: "I think the people are relieved to send Daisuke to the Boston Red Sox."[9] In Boston, Matsuzaka passed his physical and signed the six-year, $52 million contract, which could be worth as much as $60 million if he fulfills incentives. The details of the contract include a $2 million signing bonus with a $6 million salary in 2007, $8 million in each of the following three seasons (2008–2010), and $10 million in each of the final two years (2011–2012).[10] He also has a no-trade clause, specially constructed by the Red Sox to fit Matsuzaka's contract.[11]

The final agreement was announced Thursday, December 14 at a 5 p.m. EST news conference at Fenway Park.[12] Afterwards some members of the press noted the confusion created by Matsuzaka's translator at that announcement. Art Martone of the Providence Journal commented, "Matsuzaka’s interpreter’s command of the English language was shaky, and thus the pitcher’s translated comments were brief and, occasionally, unintelligible. About the only clear statement relayed by the interpreter was when Matsuzaka said, 'I’m very happy and excited to be a member of the Boston Red Sox.'"[13]

Matsuzaka's first major league spring training took place in Fort Myers, Florida, with the Red Sox during February and March of 2007. Wearing number 18, the same number he wore during his career in Japan,[14] Matsuzaka pitched well in most of his exhibition starts. He wears number 18 because Masumi Kuwata also wears number 18, and the number is traditionally worn by the ace of a pitching staff in Japan.[15]

Major League careerEdit

Matsuzaka made his first major league regular season start for the Red Sox on April 5, 2007 in an afternoon game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. He walked one, recorded 10 strikeouts, and at one point retired 10 consecutive batters. He allowed only a solo home run on 6 hits while throwing 108 pitches (74 for strikes) over 7 innings and recorded the win as the Red Sox triumphed by a score of 4-1. He was, however, beaten 3-0 by Félix Hernández (who pitched a one hitter), Ichiro Suzuki, Kenji Johjima, and their Seattle Mariners in his Fenway Park debut on April 11, 2007 and defeated again, 2-1, by the Toronto Blue Jays in his third major league start despite striking out 10 Toronto hitters in only 6 innings. Matsuzaka still became the only pitcher to strike out 10 or more batters in 2 of his first 3 big-league starts since Fernando Valenzuela did so in 1981.

In the official press conference after the Toronto start, Matsuzaka stated through his interpreter that gripping the American baseball—which is slightly larger than the Japanese pro ball, with higher seams—had presented some challenges, but that he had begun making adjustments and felt they were successful.

Matsuzaka pitched his first complete game in the major leagues on May 14, 2007, a 7-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers; he had pitched well over 60 complete games in Japan.

Matsuzaka recently signed a multi-million dollar exclusive deal with trading card company Upper Deck. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

On August 10, 2007 Matsuzaka broke the Red Sox rookie record for the most strikeouts in a season with 156 strikeouts. He finished the season with 201 strikeouts.

On September 28, 2007 Matsuzaka went eight innings and threw 119 pitches. He allowed six hits and two runs while striking out eight. With the win against the Minnesota Twins to secure the Red Sox's place as the winner of the Division, he closed out his first Major League season with a record of 15-12 and an ERA of 4.40.

On October 06, 2007 Matsuzaka made his Major League playoff debut in front of his home crowd in Boston against the visiting Los Angeles Angels. Matsuzaka started the game but lasted just 4 and 2/3 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 7 hits before being pulled. Although Matsuzaka did not fare in the decision, the Red Sox eventually went on to beat the Angels 6-3.

On October 15, 2007 Matsuzaka started in his 2nd playoff game in Cleveland against the Cleveland Indians. Much like his playoff debut, Matsuzaka delivered another mediocre outing. Again, Matsuzaka was not able to make it past 5 innings, lasting 4 and 2/3 innings, giving up 4 earned runs on 6 hits. Matsuzaka was pulled after going over the 100-pitch mark. Matsuzaka suffered his first career playoff loss as the Indians beat the Red Sox 4-2.

Matsuzaka started and won Game 7 of the 2007 ALCS on October 21, 2007 against the Cleveland Indians, retiring eight consecutive batters to begin the game. Matsuzaka pitched well for 5 innings, allowing 2 runs. The Red Sox won this game 11-2 to advance to the 2007 World Series and face the Colorado Rockies. Matsuzaka is the first Japanese pitcher to win an MLB playoff game and only the fifth rookie to start a game seven in the playoffs.

On October 27, 2007, he started and won game 3 of the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies, marking his first World Series appearance. In the game, he recorded his first major league hit: a two-out 2-run single off of Josh Fogg. Also pitching, he gave up two runs, three hits, three walks and recorded five strikeouts. Daisuke Matsuzaka is the third pitcher in Boston Red Sox franchise history to record two RBIs in a World Series game. The last person to accomplish that feat was Babe Ruth in game 4 of the 1918 World Series. The other was Cy Young. Boston won that game 10-5 over the Rockies. Matsuzaka is also the first Japanese pitcher in World Series history to start and win a World Series game.[16] On October 28, 2007, the Red Sox won the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies in game 4. Matsuzaka currently leads the Red Sox pitching staff with a record of 4-0 and is currently afflicted with the Flu since April 23, 2008


Matsuzaka possesses numerous pitches in his repertoire: a four-seam fastball that ranges from 91-94 mph (occasionally clocking 97 mph or 156 km/h) with some late movement, a two-seam fastball in the low 90s, a cut fastball in the high 80s, a curveball at about 80 mph, a slider in the low 80s, a splitter in the mid 80s, and a screwball-like changeup.

His shuuto and changeup (breaks like a screwball, similar to Pedro Martínez' change) are commonly confused with the gyroball. According to a documentary done by TV Asahi (footage below), the gyroball is a pitch that is thrown with a bullet-like spin and is designed to have little to no movement. When the angle of the axis is slightly altered, it can have a sudden break as it reaches home plate, and, thus, can be devastating for a batter. However, Matsuzaka still has yet to publicly admit that he can throw a gyroball. The same documentary explains this in two ways: that Matsuzaka wants to keep his pitch a secret, or that he has never been able to intentionally throw the gyroball because it is a random result of him pitching a fastball. Along with Matsuzaka, Hideo Nomo, Nobuyuki Hoshino, and several major leaguers have been confirmed to be able to throw this mystical pitch. Daisuke usually pitches the gyroball a few times a game, albeit inadvertently.


Matsuzaka was an accomplished hitter in high school and he got his first hit in his first ever career at-bat, a single to center, in a game against the Orix Blue Wave when the Lions ran out of bench players and had to allow him to hit for himself. The Pacific League employs the designated hitter rule. Matsuzaka's first pro home run came in an interleague game against Hanshin Tigers pitcher Darwin Cubillán at spacious Koshien Stadium on June 9, 2006. That footage can be seen in the external links section.


Matsuzaka became involved in a scandal when he began dating his current wife Tomoyo Shibata. On September 13, 2000, he drove to her apartment one night without a valid license, illegally parked his car and it got towed, then had a team official take the blame for him to avoid a scandal.

However, the truth soon got out and he, the official, and Tomoyo were harshly criticized and punished for their actions. The fact that Matsuzaka was underage by Japanese standards at the time while Tomoyo was a much older, respected, and popular TV reporter with a large male fan base also did not help matters. Their subsequent courtship and marriage was also rather unusual because while Tomoyo worked for Nippon Television, the official sponsor of the Yomiuri Giants, Matsuzaka played for the Lions who were partially owned by TV Asahi, a rival station.

In Japan, its is more common for female TV announcers to marry baseball players whose teams their stations partially sponsor, like Ichiro Suzuki (Orix Bluewave) and Akiko Fukushima (TBS), Kazuhisa Ishii (ex-LA Dodgers) and Ayako Kisa (Fuji TV), Yoshinobu Takahashi (Giants) and Mayumi Onodera (NTV), Daiuke Motoki (Giants) and Izumi Oogami (NTV), or Noriyuki Shiroishi (Swallows) and Miho Ohashi (TV Tokyo). The rivalry between TV Asahi and Nippon Television is so deep that no baseball game with the Seibu Lions as the home team has been allowed to be broadcast on NTV for many decades except for its cable affiliates.

In the aftermath, Matsuzaka was fined by the police and put under house arrest for one month by the Lions. However, that was shortened to a few weeks when Matsuzaka showed sincere remorse for his actions.

Personal lifeEdit

Matsuzaka is married to television journalist Tomoyo Shibata,[17] formerly of Nippon TV in Japan, and in 2005 she gave birth to the couple's daughter, Niko. He also has a son, born on March 15, 2008. [18][19] Daisuke is nicknamed "The Monster" (怪物 kaibutsu?)[20] in Japan and "Dice-K" in the United States[21] by the Boston Globe[22][23] and USA Today.[24]


  • As one of his contract perks that he got for signing with the Seibu Lions in 1999, Matsuzaka got tickets to the World Series games at Yankee Stadium for the Braves vs. the Yankees. This was when it became obvious that he had a desire to pitch in the Major Leagues at some point in his baseball career. Matsuzaka's favorite pitcher at the time was David Cone, who he has somewhat tried to emulate on the mound. He was also impressed by how Roger Clemens pitched in game 4 of the series.
  • Matsuzaka has had tremendous bad luck against the Yomiuri Giants in his career, and has only one career win game against them in all Spring training, inter-league, and Japan Series games combined.

References Edit

  1. Bloom, Barry M. "Japan crowned Classic's first champ - Starter Matsuzaka claims tournament's MVP award", 2006 World Baseball Classic, March 21 2006
  2. John Powers. "At home on the big stage", Boston Globe, 2006-12-15. Retrieved on 2006-12-15.
  3. Jack Curry, "A Japanese All-Star Game and a Reunion at Fenway" New York Times, [1]
  4. Matsuzaka departs for U.S. to meet agent. (November 15, 2006). Retrieved on 2006-12-15.
  5. "Red Sox's winning bid for Matsuzaka: $51.1 million"
  6. Michael Silverman (December 15, 2006). Why $51,111,111.11? John Henry explains. Boston Herald. Retrieved on 2007-04-02.
  7. Mike Petraglia (December 14, 2006). Red Sox no longer need to hide secret. Retrieved on 2006-12-15.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Nick Cafardo (December 12, 2006). Boras demands way out of line. Retrieved on 2006-12-18.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Karen Guregian. "It’s a Japanese stakeout sin Hub", Boston Herald, 2006-12-14. Retrieved on 2006-12-14.
  10. Matsuzaka agent Scott Boras told the contract includes a "litany of personal comforts." Matsuzaka will get a massage therapist, physical therapist, interpreter and personal assistant, and the Red Sox agreed to provide Matsuzaka with 80-90 flights over the course of the deal, along with special housing and transportation arrangements and accommodations for his wife. "Matsuzaka, Red Sox agree to terms"
  11. Michael Silverman. "Matsuzaka has full no-trade clause", Boston Herald, 2006-12-14. Retrieved on 2006-12-18.
  12. "Matsuzaka, Red Sox reach agreement on six-year deal",, December 14 2006
  13. "Red Sox Nation looks to expand", Providence Journal, 2006-12-15.
  14. Stan McNeal (February 15, 2007). "Time for Dice-K to get into action". Sporting News. Retrieved on 2007-04-02.
  15. Gordon Edes (March 22, 2007). Matsuzaka path follows Kuwata's -- to a point.]. Retrieved on 2007-06-26.
  16. MLB - Boston Red Sox/Colorado Rockies Recap Saturday October 27, 2007 - Yahoo! Sports
  17. Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa (2006-12-14). Dreams of Rocket(s) have us seeing stars. Retrieved on 2006-12-17.
  18. Boston Red Sox - At home on the big stage - The Boston Globe
  19. Dice'K-s wife gives birth, clearing way for Japan trip
  20. Staff (December 15, 2006). "Lost in translation?". Retrieved on 2006-12-19.
  21. Tim Brown (December 18, 2006). "At the letters: Shooting Dais". Yahoo!. Retrieved on 2006-12-20.
  22. Gordon Edes. "Getting dicey with Matsuzaka",, 2006-12-07. Retrieved on 2006-12-19.
  23. "Japanese baseball expert Robert Whiting's Matsuzaka chat". (November 21, 2006). Retrieved on 2006-12-19.
  24. Auction for Japanese pitcher Matsuzaka may be pitched battle -
  25. Nikkan Sports article on April 1, 1999 Template:Ja icon

External links Edit

Preceded by:
Kazuhiro Sasaki
Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize Winner
Succeeded by:
Hideki Matsui
Preceded by:
World Baseball Classic MVP
Succeeded by:

Template:Sawamura Award Template:Japan Roster 2006 World Baseball Classic Template:2007 Boston Red Sox Template:Red Sox

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