A former outfielder for New York Yankees, Matsui was the first Japanese power hitter to successfully make the jump to American baseball. However, after the Yankees cut him loose, he's played on the Angels and Athletics.
An athletic star from an early age, Matsui excelled in judo and sumo wrestling in high school. He came to national prominence in Japan when he was intentionally walked five times during the championship game of the nation's renowned high school baseball tournament—an unheard-of feat. In 1993, he was drafted by the powerhouse Yomiuri Giants (Japan's equivalent of the Yankees). He spent ten seasons in Japan, winning the league's MVP three times and leading his team to three titles, before signing with the Yankees in 2003. While Japanese players have had success in the majors before Matsui, all of them had either been pitchers (Hideo Nomo) or skill-and-speed guys (Ichiro Suzuki). Matsui was the first to show that Japanese power hitters could also cut it against higher-quality American pitching, and he became one of the mainstays of a stacked Yankees lineup, and even earned himself the MVP for the 2009 World Series. However, in 2010, the Yanks traded him to the Anaheim Angels, and in 2011 he found himself on the Oakland A's.
In the first few years of his career in Japan, Matsui complied with his team's requirement that he live in a team dormitory and refrain from dating. He enjoyed a long bachelorhood after decamping to New York (during which time he says he had "five girlfriends at any one time") before finally marrying in 2008. [Image via Getty]