Yanks’ opener homers for NHK

Fans cheer Matsui, 7 other Japanese major leaguers

TOKYO — Over 4 million Japanese baseball fans tuned into pubcaster NHK on Tuesday to see Hideki “Godzilla” Matsui score the first run for the New York Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League season opener in Toronto.

The ratings averaged 11.1% between 8:35 and 11 a.m., peaking at 12.8% at 9:19 a.m., nearly three times the normal figures, according to NHK associate PR manager Koichiro Nagato.

NHK is broadcasting 300 Major League Baseball games, mostly on two of its three satellite feeds, as Matsui — a popular Tokyo Giants home-run hitter through last year — and seven other Japanese are playing for five MLB clubs this season.

Last year NHK aired 262 MLB games — well up from the 75 it aired in 1995, when the first Japanese pitcher, Hideo Nomo, joined the Los Angeles Dodgers.

NHK has broadcast MLB games since 1987.

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