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Matsui honored by PM at retirement ceremony

TOKYO -- Former New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui received the People's Honor Award from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at an elaborate retirement ceremony on Sunday at Tokyo Dome.

Matsui and his former manager with the Yomiuri Giants Shigeo Nagashima were dual recipients of the award, which is bestowed on those who have made tremendous achievements in their careers and are widely adored by the public.

“I played for excellent teams, with excellent teammates, for excellent managers in front of excellent fans,” Matsui said. “I did my best to lift up, even a little bit, the game of baseball that is so beloved by the people of Japan.”

The late Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda created the award in 1977. Japanese home run king Sadaharu Oh, the first recipient of the award, took part in Sunday's ceremony.

Matsui played seven seasons for the Yankees, and was the MVP of the 2009 World Series, before finishing his career with a season each for the Los Angeles Angels, the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Other recipients of the award include film director Akira Kurosawa and Japan's women's national soccer team, which won the Women's World Cup in 2011.

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