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Waiting for Godzilla Slugger Hideki Matsui makes his dramatic debut in Gotham

Jan. 27, 2003
Jan. 27, 2003

Table of Contents
Jan. 27, 2003

Waiting for Godzilla Slugger Hideki Matsui makes his dramatic debut in Gotham

A Short Film By Tom Verducci

OPEN ON:

This is an article from the Jan. 27, 2003 issue Original Layout

EXT. TIMES SQUARE--JANUARY 14, 2003
A sense of anticipation fills New York City.

INT. TIMES SQUARE HOTEL BALLROOM
At least a hundred REPORTERS are milling in the room.

NARRATOR (VOICEOVER)
They are here for a press conference convened by the New York
Yankees to introduce 28-year-old outfielder Hideki (Godzilla)
Matsui, formerly of Tokyo's Yomiuri Giants, the most popular and
storied team in Japanese baseball.

The Yankees' assistant media relations director JASON ZILLO
enters and suddenly stops in his tracks as the reporters turn
toward him.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
The press conference is not scheduled to begin for another two
and a half hours.

CAMERA FINDS an intense, well-dressed man moving among the press,
talking rapidly. This is ARN TELLEM, Matsui's agent, working the
room.

TELLEM
t is Japan's Michael Jordan. He is a national treasure,
an icon, their greatest athlete, and he played for their most
famous team.

SCREEN WAVES INDICATE FLASHBACK to a young Matsui walloping a
tremendous home run for his high school team in Kanazawa, Japan.

CLOSEUP of a clip from the local newspaper. The translation
scrolls across the bottom of the screen: Matsui hits home runs
the way Godzilla would hit them.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
The nickname, to Matsui's delight, stuck.

TIGHT ON MATSUI, smiling.

MATSUI
(laughing)
Godzilla is a very strong creature, but he also has a good heart.
And my face looks like Godzilla's.

Matsui makes a face INTO CAMERA.

MATSUI
(continuing)
My face is scary.

GO TO:
FREEZE FRAME
Techno music plays as a graphic flashes Matsui's numbers over his
scary face:

AGE: 28 HEIGHT: 6'2" WEIGHT: 234
PRO SEASONS: 10
HOME RUNS: 332, including 50 in 2002
CONSECUTIVE GAMES PLAYED: 1,250
LEAGUE MVP AWARDS: 3

TIGHT ON MATSUI smiling again as the techno music segues to "Ken
Burns style" tinkling piano.

MATSUI
The ideal ballplayer is Babe Ruth.

DISSOLVE TO:
OLD PHOTOGRAPH of Babe Ruth surrounded by smiling kids.

MATSUI (V.O.)
I want to be that kind of ballplayer, to give back to the
baseball fans. I want to stand in the same batter's box where
Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig stood.

CUT TO:

EXT. YANKEE STADIUM--DAY
The CAMERA PANS to the stadium scoreboard, which reads WELCOME TO
THE 1999 american league championship series. In the stands sits
a wide-eyed Matsui, with a friend, ISAO HIROOKA. They have flown
to the U.S. to watch the Yankees play in the American League
Championship Series. They'll also see the Mets play for the
National League pennant.

HIROOKA
I told him, 'You cannot just show up and buy a ticket.' So he
called a broker. The broker said, 'Nine hundred dollars.' He
said, 'O.K., I will buy two.' We flew 14 hours each way for three
nights in New York. We saw two games, one at Yankee Stadium, one
at Shea Stadium. The third day he said, 'Let's go to
Cooperstown.' So we drove all the way to Cooperstown, looked at
the Hall of Fame and drove back to New York.

MONTAGE--JAPANESE PLAYERS IN AMERICA
Clips of Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Sasaki.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
Despite the recent success of some Japanese players in America,
Matsui is the first Japanese power hitter and first player from
the beloved Tokyo Giants to leave for the majors.

CUT TO:

INT. NARITA AIRPORT, TOKYO--DECEMBER 2002
Agent Tellem, retrieving his bags after a flight from the U.S. to
visit Matsui, turns, looking stunned. CAMERA PANS to reveal that
he is surrounded by some 300 Japanese journalists, strobes
popping and TV lights blazing.

TELLEM (V.O.)
I'm like Henry Kissinger now. Camera crews come by just to see my
office.

CUT TO:

EXT. YANKEE STADIUM--JANUARY 10, 2003
Matsui walks onto the field for the first time, accompanied again
by his buddy Hirooka. CAMERA PULLS BACK TO REVEAL a panoramic
view of the empty ballpark. The wind whispers.

HIROOKA
So. What do you think?

MATSUI
(shaking his head in wonder)
Wow. Wow.

The two begin to play catch.

MATSUI
The Japanese ball is smaller. These seams are bigger.

CUT TO:

INT. A MANHATTAN PHOTO STUDIO--DAY
Matsui is dressed in tailored shirt and slacks. Through the
windows of the studio, the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty
are visible.

MATSUI
I was on the top in Japan. I can accept any result that happens.
What I want to do is adjust to playing here in the major leagues.
Only if you try can your dream come true.

CUT TO:

INT. MANHATTAN HOTEL ROOM--JANUARY 14
Matsui, surrounded by his agent and YANKEES STAFFERS, puts pen to
a three-year, $21 million contract.

CUT TO:

INT. YANKEES TICKET OFFICE
Phones ring incessantly as harried TEAM PRESIDENT RANDY LEVINE
and CLUB EMPLOYEES field ticket requests.

LEVINE (V.O.)
We're seeing a pretty good increase in ticket sales among
Japanese fans. There have been strong expressions of interest
among Japanese companies that want to sponsor stadium signage and
other things. I'm also on the board of the New York City
Convention and Visitors Bureau. They're already reporting
interest from Japanese tour groups. I can't quantify it, but he's
already had a tremendous impact.

CUT TO:

EXT. MANHATTAN STREET
Tires squeal. A van filled with Japanese journalists chases a van
containing Matsui, Yankees SECURITY PERSONNEL and a REAL ESTATE
WOMAN who wants to show her new client apartments in midtown. The
security men enlist the NYPD for help. The officers block a
street after allowing Matsui's van through. ZOOM IN ON THE
FRUSTRATED FACES of the journalists in the stopped van.

CUT TO:

INT. TIMES SQUARE HOTEL
A dozen Yankees security officers await Matsui's arrival.

SECURITY OFFICER
(into walkie-talkie)
Saturday has entered the building.

Matsui and his entourage enter the hotel through a very private
entrance.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
The Yankees treat Matsui like a head of state. At least three
security officers escort him at all times. They give Matsui the
code name Saturday. Hirooka is given the code name Friday.

A smiling Matsui, now standing at the ballroom podium, pulls a
Yankees cap over his mop of black hair. FAST ZOOM to the cap's
band, showing the size: 7 3/4.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
Stretched, the cap barely fits Godzilla. The Yankees will need to
special order his regular size eight.

CAMERA PULLS BACK TO REVEAL 400 journalists now filling the
ballroom.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
Four television stations carry the press conference live in
Japan, though it is two o'clock in the morning there. The Yankees
plan to erect a tent during spring training to accommodate daily
Matsui press conferences. During the season the team may employ
an auxiliary locker room to serve the expected 50 Japanese
journalists on the Matsui beat.

CAMERA FINDS Agent Tellem working the crowd.

TELLEM
He's ready. The toughest part will be how his teammates react to
questions every day about Matsui.

CAMERA FOLLOWS Matsui, still smiling, as he departs, flanked by
his security.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE HOTEL
The camera slowly pulls back on Times Square.

SECURITY OFFICER
(crackling walkie-talkie voice)
Saturday has left the building.

FADE TO BLACK

TO BE CONTINUED....

COLOR PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JAMES PORTOCOLOR PHOTO: KYODO NEWS/AP THE REEL THING 332 career homers.