Apr 19, 2020

Remembering Mets History (2004-2006) Kaz Matsui Becomes Only Player to Lead Off 1st Three Seasons With HRs

Former Met second baseman, Kazo Matsui came to the Mets & MLB after being a star player in his native Japan. Matsui was a seven time Best Nine award winner, had won an MVP Award & received four Gold Gloves. 

His team the Seibu Lions, won four Pacific League titles but never a Japanese Series title. 

Matsui arrived in New York with much fanfare, he never became a super star but he was a solid player. Matsui set an MLB record by being the first player to hit a HR in his first plate appearance of his first three seasons (2004-2006).

Tuesday April 6th 2004: On Opening Day 2004, Art Howe's New York Mets visited Atlanta, to open the season against the NL East rival Braves. 

The Mets were displaying some new players in '04, Mike Cameron, Braden Looper & Kaz Matsui. The Mets would finish 71-91, in fourth place in 2004.

They got a good start from Tom Glavine, who held his former team down to two runs over six innings. The bullpen gave them two shut out innings from David Weathers & a shaky 9th inning from Braden Looper. 

Offensively, it was Matsui who proved to be the star of the day. In his first career at bat, Matsui homered on the first pitch he saw off Russ Ortiz, the first of his record setting feat. Matsui became the third Met to HR in his first career at bat, joining Benny Ayala (1974) & Mike Fitzgerald (1983).

In the 2nd inning, after the Braves took a 2-1 lead, Tom Glavine drove in a run with a base hit. Then Matsui doubled to right field, scoring Glavine giving the Mets the lead again.

In the 3rd, Matsui drew a bases loaded walk off pitcher Juan Cruz. This gave the Mets aa 6-2 lead, as they went on to win it 7-2. 

In his debut, Matsui had three hits, a HR, a double, two walks & three RBIs. Mike Piazza also homered on the day. In his rookie season, Matsui batted .272 with 125 hits 7 HRs 32 doubles 2 triples 44 RBIs & 14 stolen bases in 114 games.

Monday April 4th 2005: The arrival of Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez & new manager Willie Randolph brought much excitement to Shea Stadium for 2005. The team would improve to 83-79 finishing in third place.

This season opened up for the Mets in Cincinnati against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Pedro Martinez debut was ruined by Braden Looper blowing a 9th inning save, with back to back HRs from Adam Dunn & a walk off from Joe Randa.

With Jose Reyes in the lead off spot, Matsui was batting in the second position. In his first at bat of 2005, he blasted a solo shot off former Met, Paul Wilson, to deep right field, staring out this season with a HR as well. Matsui went 1-4 with the HR in the Mets 7-6 loss. Carlos Beltran & Cliff Floyd also homered on the day.

For 2005 Matsui would only play in 87 games, batting .255 with 68 hits 3 HRs 9 doubles 4 triples 6 steals & 24 RBIs.

Thursday April 20th 2006: The Mets were 11-4 at this point of the season, as they would run away with the NL East & never look back. The additions of Carlos Delgado, Paul Loduca, Jose Valentin & Billy Wagner made the Mets a powerhouse. They won

This was Kaz Matsui's first game of the year, a night game 7-2 win in San Diego against the Padres. Steve Trachsel & five Mets relievers held the Friars to two runs. Carlos Delgado & Julio Franco would also hit HRs in this game as well.

Matsui was batting in the 8th position tonight & as he led off the 3rd inning, against Jake Peavy he hit a bullet tonight field. 

The speedy Matsui would take it all around the bases & have himself an inside the park HR. It got him in the record books, as the first player to hit HRs in his first at bat in his first three seasons.

In June of 2006, Matsui would get traded to the Colorado Rockies for Eli Marrero. In his 38 games with the Mets he batted .200 with 26 hits 1 HR 6 doubles & 7 RBIs. He would not join the Mets in the 2006 Post Season, but would get to the 2007 World Series with Colorado.

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