“Special Fan Club” Gift, Part 2

Nearly a year ago, as the season had come to an end, I received a surprise parcel in the mail. Though the team had not yet made it official, everyone knew Matt Murton had played his final game for the Tigers. So it was with kind of mixed emotions that I opened the parcel and spent a good amount of time looking closely at each item.

Fast forward to this past Saturday. I had texted Matt Hague to let him know about the birth of my second son, because we have been in touch throughout the season and talk about things outside of baseball (mostly about Mexican food, mind you). Well, his reply was “congrats” but then also “what’s your address, bro?” And I was reminded about how Murton’s wife asked me the same question 11 months earlier. Hmmmm… methinks I’m getting something in the mail. That probably means there won’t be a 2017 season for Hague. At least not with Hanshin.

Today I got the package. There’s still time left in the season! He’s still rehabbing his shoulder! Or so I thought. Then when I sent him a text reply, the “blue speech bubble” indicating we are both iPhone users, turned green. Probably means his phone is no longer his phone. Which might mean… yeah, he has in fact left Japan and cannot be reached by text, at least not to his phone number. Also, two articles I found online confirmed that (a) he will not be offered a contract in 2017, and (b) he has left the country to have his shoulder looked at in America.

He’s really gone. He never really got a fair shake. We won’t get to eat Mexican together after all. Very few people ever became Hague fans, even though he has such kind heart and love for the fans. His skill (which he obviously has, given his .338 / 11 HR / 92 RBI / AAA MVP in 2015) never came to the surface in Japan. Look at guys like Brandon Laird of the Nippon Ham Fighters. What if they’d treated him the way the Tigers did Hague? They would not have a guy knocking on the 40-HR door.

Again, mixed feelings as I look at this box full of stuff. Here’s what I got in the mail, for those who are interested.

haguegiftpack

The article I wrote out of frustration after Hague’s second farming is far and away the most hits any post has ever gotten on my website. The podcast on which I interviewed Hague is far and away the most listened to episode I have ever done. So in a selfish way, I wished he’d be given a better chance. Make it big. Give me bragging rights. But more than anything, I wish Matt and his wife (whom he married soon after officially signing with the Tigers) all the best as they take the next step in their lives. I know they have a great future somewhere. And I hope to have a chance to cheer him on from afar and still stay in touch via Twitter and other social media. Blessings to you, brotha.

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.