Former New York Yankees star Hideki Matsui is one of two baseballing greats to be honoured by Japan with a national award.
Newspapers on Tuesday blared the news that the "People's Honour Award" would be bestowed on Matsui and former Yomiuri Giants player and manager Shigeo Nagashima, who is to Japanese baseball what Pele is to Brazilian soccer.
The award was created in 1977 to honour figures who inspire the nation when Giants slugger Sadaharu Oh hit his 756th home-run, surpassing the then-world record held by US Major League star Hank Aaron.
It has now been given to one group and 20 individuals, including film director Akira Kurosawa who was a recipient in 1998.
Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga recalled that Matsui, 38, became the first Japanese to be named the World Series' most valuable player when he helped the Yankees win the MLB title in 2009.
"Nicknamed Godzilla, he has been loved by fans in both Japan and the United States," Suga said.
Matsui retired from baseball last December after 20 years in Japanese and US baseball.
Nagashima, 77, was a "national star nicknamed 'Mr Baseball'," Suga said. He won the batting title six times and the home-run title twice in his 17 playing years with the Giants.
As team manager, he won five pennants, including two Japan Series titles.