Watch: Dice-K gets emotional send-off in final professional game originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Daisuke Matsuzaka era — which lasted much longer than Boston Red Sox fans may have expected — finally ended Tuesday.
Matsuzaka officially ended his professional baseball career by making one last appearance for the Saitama Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league. The former Red Sox pitcher revealed back in July that he planned to retire following the 2021 season, in part due to experiencing numbness in his pitching hand.
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Matsuzaka is a legend in Japan, where he rose to prominence as one of the country’s best pitchers over an eight-year span before joining the Red Sox in 2007. So, it’s only fitting that he got a legendary send-off.
Here’s scene at the Lions’ home stadium as Matsuzaka faced his final batter:
The 41-year-old received a standing ovation from the home crowd and congratulations from his teammates as he walked off the mound for the last time. He appeared pretty emotional, too, soaking in his final time on a big-league diamond.
But the highlight of the day came after the game, when Matsuzaka’s teammates gleefully hoisted him in the air in an awesome celebration.
“Dice-K” left somewhat of a mixed legacy from his six seasons in Boston, helping the Red Sox win a World Series in 2007 but not quite living up to expectations after Boston paid $51 million just for the right to sign him in the winter of 2006.
Matsuzaka is an undisputed icon in Japan, though, and Tuesday’s send-off provided plenty of proof.