Yankee Plays Ball for N.Y. Tourism

NEW YORK Hideki Matsui, who was a baseball star in Japan before joining the New York Yankees last season, has signed a deal with NYC & Co., the city’s convention and visitors bureau, to promote the Big Apple to potential tourists and businesses.

The first effort for the man nicknamed “Godzilla” will be a series of radio commercials that will air in Tokyo in March. That will slightly precede the arrival of the Yankees, who will open their 2004 season on March 30 in Japan, where New York will play Tampa Bay in the first of two games at the Tokyo Dome as part of Major League Baseball’s effort to promote itself as a global sport.

Terms of the deal with Matsui were not released, but he did the radio spots for free, according to Cristyne Nicholas, NYC & Co. president, who labeled the player as New York’s “new tourism ambassador for Japan.”

“He’s got enormous name ID, face ID and the fact he’s here in New York City we are tremendously lucky and just very grateful,” Nicholas told New York daily Newsday.