OAKLAND — Oakland’s Hideki Matsui and Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki, Japan’s most celebrated current players, joined forces on Sunday to share in the A’s celebration of Japanese Heritage Day as their two teams closed out a three-game season-opening set.
It marked a day of continuing relief efforts for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, as the A’s announced they have now raised more than $65,000. The club donated $1 for every ticket sold to the Red Cross, and the benefit game featured pregame ceremonies and entertainment, including taiko drummers, along with several fundraising components.
San Francisco Japanese Consul General Hiroshi Inomata was present for the festivities, and Matsui participated in an on-field, relief-effort check presentation. In the stands, the first 10,000 fans who walked in the gates received complimentary Matsui T-shirts.
Japanese Heritage Day also afforded fans the chance to take part in a silent auction, which included signed and game-used equipment from A’s players, including signed game jerseys worn by Matsui and Ichiro on Saturday. Matsui’s went for $4,555, while Ichiro’s brought in $6,015. Signed color photos of Matsui were sold for $50 each.
In addition, the A’s have created a website as a way to expand their efforts. Fans can visit www.oaklandathletics.com/japan for an opportunity to make tax-deductible donations to the A’s Community Fund. All proceeds will be given to the Red Cross, and the website will remain open throughout the season.