Ichiro Suzuki (SEATTLE MARINERS)

Ichiro Suzuki

This article was written by Douglas Jordan

Ichiro Suzuki (SEATTLE MARINERS)

After a nine-year career in Japan, where he won an unprecedented seven consecutive batting titles, seven consecutive Gold Glove awards, and three consecutive MVP awards, Ichiro Suzuki became the first position player from Nippon Professional Baseball in the major leagues in 2001. Proving many doubters wrong, his stellar hitting continued in the U.S. against major-league pitching, as he began his big-league career with an unprecedented 10 straight 200-hit seasons, including a record-setting 262 hits in 2004.

Ichiro’s style was reminiscent of an earlier era. Although he could hit for power, Suzuki usually used his tremendous bat control to spray the ball around the field. Appearing almost to run before his bat struck the ball, he sped down the line from the left-hand batter’s box and beat out many infield choppers and bunts. His pre-pitch ritual was inimitable and distinctive. Swinging the bat in a long arc, he pointed it at the pitcher, and then tugged on his right sleeve. Only then was he ready to hit. Baseball columnist Thomas Boswell opined, “To see Ichiro hit is to be taken back almost a century to the hit ’em where they ain’t technique.”1

His outstanding offensive abilities were complemented by great defense. Playing primarily in right field, as well as some time in center, he also won 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards. One highlight reel of his defensive gems contains 10 minutes of diving catches, stolen home runs, and frozen-rope throws.2 After one strong throw from right field to third base, Mariners’ announcer Dave Niehaus, making one of his most famous calls, exclaimed, “I’m here to tell you that Ichiro threw something out of Star Wars down there at third base!”

In addition, he enjoyed All-Star appearances each year during his first decade in the majors. His outstanding play in two countries made him an international celebrity, known by one word alone like soccer hero Pelé. Ichiro’s success in the U.S. changed the perception that major-league teams had of Japanese baseball players. He paved the way for future stars such as 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and 2021 AL MVP Shohei Ohtani.

Suzuki played major-league baseball for 19 years. He had a 28-year professional career in Japan and the U.S. combined. His longevity exceeds that of major-league leaders Nolan Ryan and Cap Anson, who each played for 27 seasons. Suzuki finished with 3,089 big-league hits, which puts him 24th on the all-time career hit list (as of 2022). Adding his 1,278 hits while playing in Japan’s Pacific League gives him a total of 4,367 hits at the top level in each nation. That total exceeds the record 4,256 hits that Pete Rose amassed during his big-league career.

Suzuki also excelled on the base paths. He is one of only seven major-leaguers to have 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases.3 Ichiro and Lou Gehrig are the only players in the modern era to have eight seasons with 200 hits and 100 runs scored. His stellar offense, superb defense, and success running the bases mean that Ichiro Suzuki will almost certainly be the first Japanese player elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown when he becomes eligible in 2024.

Ichiro (the name means brightest, most cheerful) Suzuki was born on October 22, 1973, in Nichi Kasugai-gun (a suburb of Nagoya), Japan.4 His parents are Nobuyuki and Yoshie Suzuki, and his only sibling is his older brother, Kazuyasu.5 Ichiro’s love of the game, and famous work ethic, were instilled in him by his father. Nobuyuki was a former high school pitcher who bought Ichiro his first glove, and played catch with him, when Ichiro was just three years old. Although Suzuki was naturally right-handed, Nobuyuki taught Ichiro to bat left-handed because lefties get to first base faster. When Ichiro was seven, the two established a daily afternoon routine – summer and winter, regardless of the weather. The boy would throw 50 pitches, hit 200 tosses from his father, and do 50 infield and 50 outfield fielding plays. After dinner every day, the two would go to the local batting cage, where Ichiro would take 250 to 300 swings.

By the time Ichiro was 12, he knew what he wanted to do with his life. In a sixth-grade essay he wrote, “My dream when I grow up is to be a first-class professional baseball player…. I have the confidence to do the necessary practice to reach that goal…. I only had five or six hours (per year) to play with my friends. That’s how much I practiced. So I think I can become a pro.” Reflecting on this period, Nobuyuki said, “Baseball was fun for both of us.” Ichiro replied, “It might have been fun for him, but for me … it bordered on hazing and I suffered a lot. But I also couldn’t say no to him. He was doing his utmost to help me.”6

High school baseball in Japan is taken with the same seriousness that Texans take high school football. For promising Japanese baseball players, the choice of where to go to high school is given the same consideration as where to go to college is given in the U.S. The high school that Ichiro attended, Aikodai Meiden Kokko, in Nagoya, is one of the top baseball schools in Japan and is well known for sending its best athletes to the professional ranks. Ichiro’s time there was difficult. As a freshman he had to scrub the dormitory floors and got up at 3 a.m. to do laundry for the upperclassmen. After he became a starter in his junior year, the chores were replaced with running, and drills such as throwing car tires, and hitting Wiffle balls with a shovel. Ichiro called his time at Meiden “the hardest thing I have ever experienced.”7

But the hard work paid off – Ichiro batted .502 during his high school career. He never struck out swinging in over 500 high-school at-bats and was called out on strikes just 10 times. He twice led Meiden to the most prestigious high school baseball tournament in Japan. However, in spite of these stellar numbers, he was not chosen until the fourth and final round (36th overall) of Japan’s 1991 draft, by the Orix Blue Wave. Scouts for most teams did not think he could compete because of his small stature (he was then 5-feet-9 and just 120 pounds).8

Ichiro made his Nippon Professional Baseball debut with the Blue Wave at age 18 in 1992. But the manager of the team had doubts about his future in baseball because of his small size and unorthodox hitting technique, so he spent most of his first two seasons in the minor leagues. As part of his development, Orix sent Suzuki to play in the Hawaii Winter Baseball League after the 1993 Japanese season. Playing for the Hilo Stars of the four-city circuit, Ichiro led the team to a 28-20 record and a first-place finish. League owner Duane Kurisu said Suzuki’s play stood out even then. He exclaimed, “Ichiro, man. His name would keep popping up throughout. It was from Day 1. One day I was with some farm directors, they said you gotta look at this kid. Here was this small guy hitting bombs. This was the first inkling of who Ichiro was. I saw it in BP. He was hitting things beyond these warehouses that were over 450 feet away.”9

When Orix changed managers in 1994, Ichiro was allowed to play every day. Leading off for the Blue Wave for most of the season, his 210 hits marked the first time anyone exceeded 200 hits in the circuit’s 130-game season. He batted .385 and scored 111 runs. His reward for this stellar offense was the Most Valuable Player award in the Pacific League.10 In addition, he won the first of seven consecutive Gold Gloves (in Japan) for his defensive prowess.

It was also in 1994 that he became known as Ichiro. Suzuki is a common surname in Japan, so in order to draw attention to their budding star, the Blue Wave decided to put Ichiro on his jersey rather than Suzuki. The team also announced his at bats by Ichiro. Suzuki did not like the idea at first. “I’ve got to admit, though, that it embarrassed me when the public address announcers announced the starting lineup with me as ‘Ichiro,’ not as ‘Suzuki’ and there was a great stir among the crowd.”11 But over the course of the season, as he became famous nationwide and endorsement offers came rolling in, it was the only name by which he wanted to be known.12 How famous was Ichiro in Japan? He said that letters with the address, Ichiro, Japan, would reach him as long as the address was written in katakana (Japanese phonetics).13

The Orix club is based in Kobe, Japan. Suzuki was there when the Kobe earthquake struck in January 1995. Of the experience he said, “I really felt like I might be killed. I can’t put into words how frightening it was.”14 Yet the baseball season went on as planned, in spite of extensive loss of life and damage to the city, and Ichiro continued his offensive onslaught in 1995. He led the Pacific League in hits (179), RBIs (80), stolen bases (49), and batting average (.342), and won his second consecutive MVP award. The Blue Wave won the Pacific League by 12 games, then played in the Japan Series against the Central League champion, the Yakult Swallows. Although Orix lost the series in five games, the season set the stage for 1996. Paced by Ichiro’s 193 hits and .356 batting average, the Blue Wave won their second consecutive Pacific League title. Facing the famed Tokyo Yomiuri Giants in the Japan Series, Orix prevailed in five games, and Suzuki won his third consecutive MVP award.

Although the Blue Wave never won another league title while Ichiro was there, his offensive heroics continued over the next four years. With batting averages of .345, .358, .343, and .387, he earned an unprecedented seven consecutive batting titles. The press started referring to him as the “Human Batting Machine” and later simply as kaibutsu. This is high praise in Japan: kaibutsu means monster. Ichiro thought he could be the first Japanese player to bat .400 for a season.15

It was during this period that Ichiro married Yumiko Fukushima, an announcer at a major Tokyo television station who spoke fluent English. The wedding took place on December 3, 1999, at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. The small, private ceremony was held outside of Japan in order to avoid the media crush that certainly would have accompanied an in-country wedding. Recalling the experience, Ichiro mused, “After it was all over, I thought to myself what a wonderful thing a wedding is.”16

Ichiro had played against American stars in postseason exhibition games and became interested in playing in the U.S. During one exhibition series, Barry Bonds is reported to have said, “That little s–t can really hit the ball.”17 But getting to play in the U.S. was a complicated proposition. Japanese players couldn’t become free agents for nine years, and Ichiro’s sense of duty to Orix precluded him from using the “voluntarily retired” loophole that Hideo Nomo had used to come to the U.S. in 1995.18 However, the financially strapped Orix club, aware that Ichiro would become a free agent soon, and knowing they could get a big payment from an American team, agreed to “post” him. This meant that MLB teams could bid on his services.19

How did the small-market Seattle Mariners get Ichiro instead of one of the big-market teams? Jim Colborn, the Pacific Rim scouting coordinator for the Mariners, had been the pitching coach for Orix in the early 1990s. When Ichiro was shooting Nissan commercials during the winter, he stayed at Colborn’s house in California. Colborn had also given him jerseys from Ken Griffey Jr. (Suzuki’s favorite player). In addition, Orix and the Mariners had an agreement to share marketing ideas in exchange for information about Japanese players.

When Orix posted Ichiro, Colborn convinced the Mariners’ general manager, Pat Gillick, that the team should vigorously pursue him. Gillick then sold the Mariners’ principal owner, Hiroshi Yamauchi, president of Nintendo, on the idea. Yamauchi wanted Ichiro badly enough to add a few million of his own money to the Mariner bid.20 Seattle’s $13 million offer earned the club the right to negotiate with Ichiro, and Suzuki soon signed a three-year, $14 million contract with the Mariners. The ploy worked in part because most big-league teams believed Ichiro was too small to be successful in the U.S.

Ichiro was the Mariners’ starting right fielder on opening day, 2001. It didn’t take him long to prove he could play in the U.S. In Seattle’s eighth game of the season, at Oakland, Ichiro’s leadoff single in the top of the eighth inning sparked a three-run rally to break a scoreless tie. In the bottom of that inning, he made a defensive effort that is now simply referred to as “The Throw.” Playing right field, he threw Terrence Long out at third base with a perfect throw. Rick Rizzs, the Mariners radio announcer, called it a “laser beam strike,” and said it was one of the greatest throws he had ever seen.21

Yet despite this start to the season, there were still doubts, even among his teammates, that he could play in the major leagues. In an interview Ichiro stated, “If I said there wasn’t concern among the team, I wouldn’t be telling the truth. There were all sorts of views about my performance among the Mariners players then, not just positive opinions. It took longer than the month of April to gain their trust.”22

But his stellar play continued. By the All-Star break, he led the majors with 133 hits. Ichiro started the All-Star Game in center field for the American League and beat out an infield single against 6-foot-10 southpaw Randy Johnson. His success against Johnson was not unusual. Unlike many left-handed hitters who struggle against lefty pitchers, Ichiro batted .329 versus southpaws compared to .304 against righties during his major-league career. Suzuki felt honored to be among the All-Stars. Asked about his All-Star experience, he gushed, “I loved playing in that game. Every time I looked around during the game, I got the feeling of Wow! These are the All-Stars.”23

In addition to putting up tremendous individual numbers, Ichiro sparked the entire team to play great baseball. The Mariners had a 63-24 (.724!) record at the All-Star break and led the American League West by 19 games. Seattle wound up winning 116 games – tying the 1906 Cubs’ all-time win record and surpassing the 1998 Yankees’ AL mark of 114. The Mariners beat Cleveland in the ALDS before losing in five games to the three-time defending champion Yankees in the ALCS. Asked about that opponent, Ichiro said, “There’s a sense of awe that’s always there with the Yankees. The atmosphere’s different. The Yankees had gone to the World Series four years in a row, and I think they’re amazing.”24

The numbers that Ichiro put up in 2001 were pretty amazing too. Although his lengthy Japanese career meant that the 27-year-old Suzuki was far from a typical rookie, he won the American League Rookie of the Month awards for April, May, August, and September. In 157 games, he led the league in batting average (.350) and ranked second with his career-high 127 runs scored. He led the major leagues in plate appearances (738), at bats (692), hits (242), and stolen bases (56). His 242 hits were the highest total since Bill Terry’s 254 in 1930. Ichiro was the first player to lead a league in batting average and stolen bases since Jackie Robinson in 1949. His efforts were rewarded with a Silver Slugger award, a Gold Glove, and Rookie of the Year honors. In a close vote, he edged the Oakland Athletics’ Jason Giambi for Most Valuable Player honors, 289 points to 281. Seattle’s Bret Boone also received seven first-place votes. Suzuki was surprised that he won, saying, “I really hadn’t been thinking about the MVP at all. I was sure all the time that my teammate, Bret Boone, would win it. I figured Boone was the best man for the MVP.”25

In both the 2002 and 2003 seasons, Suzuki recorded at least 200 hits, scored 111 runs, won a Gold Glove, and started the All-Star Game. The Mariners won 93 games each season but failed to make the playoffs. The stage was set for one of the greatest hitting seasons in baseball history.

At the end of April 2004, Suzuki was batting just .255, and the Mariners’ record was 8-15. While Seattle struggled all season, finishing 63-98, Ichiro was hitting .315 by the end of June. In July, however, he collected 51 hits and batted .432. In August, he added 56 more hits with a .456 average. In the 60 games between July 1 and September 6, he hit safely a record 121 times, and batted .458. Only Rogers Hornsby (.486 in 1924) produced a higher average over the same number of contests.26

Through September 6, Ichiro had 226 hits, with 25 games remaining to chase George Sisler’s record of 257 in 1920. He managed just 10 hits over the next 12 games but added 13 hits in the following four contests to put the mark within reach. On October 1, in front of a sellout crowd at Safeco Field that included Sisler’s daughter, Ichiro broke the record with a three-hit performance in Seattle’s 160th game. When he hit safely in his final at-bat of the season two days later, the new record was 262.

Ichiro was glad that the pressure of the chase was over. He said, “It was a big relief. I felt like something got off my shoulders. To see the fans and to see my teammates, it was just a very exciting time for me. It was a very special moment, definitely the highlight of my career.” His father, Nobuyuki, watching in Japan, added, “You can tell how happy and proud I am just by looking at me. The tears just won’t stop flowing.”27

It was truly a season for the ages. In addition to setting the hits record, Ichiro became the first player to get 200 hits in his first four years in the major leagues. His 924 hits in those four years are the major-league mark for most hits in any four-year span. His 225 singles are the major-league record, and his 80 multi-hit games set the club record. He had 50 hits in a month three times (50 in May, 51 in July, 56 in August) and was the first player since Pete Rose to have four 50-hit months (Suzuki also had 51 hits in August 2001). He had five hits four times and led the majors with 57 infield hits. He set career highs in batting average (.372, which also led the majors), OBP (.414), and OPS (.869). He stole 36 bases and had a career-high four steals against Boston on July 20.28 He also earned his fourth straight All-Star appearance and fourth straight Gold Glove award. Ichiro had proved his doubters wrong, and showed that Japanese position players could compete in the U.S.

The Mariners never made it back to the playoffs after 2001 while Ichiro was on the team. Seattle was in first place in August of 2002 and 2003 but faded down the stretch both years. In 2007 the team got within a game of first place in August, but soon fell off the pace. However, Suzuki was a model of consistency. By the end of the 2010 season, he had produced at least 200 hits in 10 straight campaigns – no other player has ever done that – while being selected to the All-Star Game and winning a Gold Glove in each campaign.

Noteworthy events during this period include career highs in home runs (15) and triples (12) in 2005. He set the American League record with 45 straight successful steals from April 19, 2006 to May 17, 2007. In 2009, he had a career high 27-game hitting streak from May 6 to June 3, and he victimized Mariano Rivera with his first career walk-off home run on September 18.

One of Ichiro’s All-Star Game highlights came in 2007. He came to bat in the fifth inning with the AL trailing, 1-0. Suzuki crushed a pitch from Chris Young to the right field wall at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The ball took an unexpected carom off the wall, and Griffey could not track the ball down soon enough to prevent Ichiro from scampering for an inside-the-park home run – the only such homer in All-Star Game history. Ichiro went 3-for-3 in the game and was voted MVP in the American League’s 5 – 4 victory. Surprisingly, he never hit an inside-the-park home run during the regular season.

During this portion of his career Ichiro also played for Japan in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic and the second edition in 2009. In 2006, Japan played Cuba in the final game of the tournament. Ichiro’s two hits and three runs in the final game contributed to Japan’s 10-6 victory to win the tournament. Defending their title in 2009, Japan played the U.S. in one of the semifinal games. Facing three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt, Japan scored five runs in the fourth inning to break open a close game, earning a berth in the final against South Korea. As the home team, South Korea got a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the final game into extra innings. In the top of the 10th, Ichiro came to bat with two outs and two men on. His single scored the two runs that proved to be the margin of victory, as Japan won the World Baseball Classic for the second consecutive time.29

Ichiro was reserved when talking to the media, always speaking through a translator so he would not be misunderstood, even though he could speak English well. Even so, teammates said that he was exuberant and very funny in private. Mariner teammate Aaron Sele opined, “I don’t think people realize how funny he was.” Mike Sweeney was part of the All-Star team that visited Japan to play exhibition games after the 2000 season. When an American got a hit, the public address announcer would say, “Nice batting.” Sweeney thought he would return the favor when Ichiro got a hit the following season, saying “Ichiro, nice batting.” Ichiro replied, “Mike Sweeney, nice ass.”

When Ichiro spoke English, he used the F-word liberally. Mariners’ trainer Rick Griffen said, “He dropped many, many F-bombs in many different varieties and different forms. Just screaming and yelling and hopping up and down — and then he walked away and sat down like nothing happened.” A story from the 2002 All-Star Game is a good example. Before the game, Joe Torre (the manager for the AL team) made a calm, professional speech to the players. Torre then pointed to Ichiro and asked him if he had anything to add. After a brief pause, Ichiro shouted out, “Let’s kick their f—ing fat asses.” The other players cheered, “Yeeeaaahhhhh!” So, Ichiro got the last pregame word at every All-Star game he played in, and he always finished with similar remarks.30

But even Ichiro’s talent and hard work could only fend off Father Time for so long. In 2011, at age 37, he batted .272 – his first sub-.300 average as a professional, and his first season with fewer than 200 hits (184) since coming to the majors. He was batting just .261 at the 2012 All-Star break when the Mariners – who hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2001 – decided to trade their beloved star rather than give him a lucrative contract for the following year.31 The Yankees, believing Ichiro could regain his form in a new setting, traded relievers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to acquire him.

From September 1 through the end of the 2012 season, Ichiro batted .362 with 38 hits in 31 games as the Yankees went 20-11 to win the AL East by two games. New York faced Baltimore in the AL division series. Although Ichiro batted only .217 for the series in his second taste of postseason action, he drove in a crucial run in the sixth inning of the decisive Game Five victory. Subsequently, Suzuki’s .353 batting average in the ALCS was the team’s best, but the Yankees were swept by the Tigers. This was Ichiro’s last postseason appearance, and he never played in a World Series.

Ichiro was unable to continue his late 2012 season form into 2013, as he batted .262 with 136 hits. After he followed that up with a .284, 102-hit showing in 2014, the Yankees allowed him to become a free agent. He was signed by the Miami Marlins as the team’s fourth outfielder for 2015. He played more than expected because of an injury to Giancarlo Stanton, appearing in 153 games, but batted just .229 with 91 hits. (He also made his only big-league appearance on the mound that year.) Nonetheless, that was enough, combined with his still formidable defense, to entice the Marlins to re-sign him for 2016.

That set the stage for another career highlight. Ichiro was just 65 hits shy of 3,000 for his major-league career on Opening Day. The total increased slowly through the year because he was used mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement. But on August 7, at Coors Field, the 42-year-old Suzuki ripped a stand-up triple off the right field wall to become the 30th player with 3,000 hits (Paul Molitor was the other player to achieve the milestone with a triple).

 

 

Good defense, and Suzuki’s .291 batting average, caused the Marlins to re-sign him for another year. But even though he said he wanted to play until he was 50, the Marlins didn’t offer him a contract after he batted .255 with 50 hits in 2017.32 That season, he had 27 pinch-hits (in 100 at-bats), falling just one short of John Vander Wal’s single-season mark.

Ichiro wanted to play in 2018, but even though his agent had contacted every major-league team, he still didn’t have a contract in early February of that year. Wright Thompson of ESPN the Magazine spent five days with Suzuki in February and wrote a widely read feature article about him. Thompson portrayed Ichiro as a compulsive baseball savant, but also as someone having difficulty envisioning a life beyond baseball. Former Marlins teammate Dee Gordon said, only half-jokingly, “I really just hope he keeps playing, because I don’t want him to die. I believe he might die if he doesn’t keep playing. What is Ichiro gonna do if he doesn’t play baseball?” Suzuki echoed the sentiment. When asked by a Miami journalist what he will do after baseball, Ichiro replied, “I think I’ll just die.”33

Fate then intervened to bring a storybook ending to Ichiro’s stellar career. During spring training in 2018, three Mariners outfielders were injured, and Seattle was unable to find any suitable short-term replacements. They turned to Ichiro. Despite not arriving at spring training until March 8, Suzuki was in the starting lineup for the Mariners’ opener on March 29. At 44 years, five months, and seven days, he was the fifth-oldest player to make an Opening Day start in the major leagues. The largest regular-season crowd in Safeco history, 47,149 fans, gave Suzuki a thunderous ovation when his name was announced, and chants of “I-chi-ro!” filled the stadium when he came to bat. When asked about getting to play for the Mariners again, he replied, “The dreams that I have, one of them came true.”34

Ichiro started 10 of the first 15 games for the Mariners in 2018, and played in 15 games total, batting just .205, before his last appearance on May 2. The Mariners used Suzuki as a mentor, front-office advisor, and a batting, base running, and outfield defense instructor for the rest of the year, with the intention of keeping him in the organization for the long term.35

The fates were not through with Ichiro just yet. The fairy tale ending continued in 2019, as MLB scheduled the Mariners to play in the Japan Opening Series at the Tokyo Dome. After starting both games for the Mariners, in the eighth inning of the second game his teammates left the field; Ichiro, tipping his hat, exited to a standing ovation from the adoring Japanese crowd. He announced his retirement at a press conference immediately following the game. After answering questions for 30 minutes, Griffey told Suzuki that the fans were still waiting for him to make a curtain call. In a manner similar to Cal Ripken after he broke the consecutive games played record, Ichiro walked slowly around the perimeter of the field, surrounded by photographers, saluting the crowd. Ichiro was overcome with emotion. He said, “I’m very thankful to the fans, to the Mariners and all the people that work for the Mariners…it doesn’t get better than tonight. Nothing can top what happened tonight for me.” It was a fitting ending to his unparalleled career.36

At his retirement press conference Suzuki exclaimed, “I have achieved so many of my dreams in baseball, both in my career in Japan and, since 2001, in Major League Baseball. I am honored to end my big-league career where it started, with Seattle, and think it is fitting that my last games as a professional were played in my home country of Japan.” He added, “I want to thank not only the Mariners, but the Yankees and Marlins, for the opportunity to play in MLB, and I want to thank the fans in both the U.S. and Japan for all the support they have always given me.”

Since his retirement Ichiro has served as special assistant to the chairman in the Mariners organization. His role in that capacity has been as a uniformed instructor during spring training for the team.37 He lives in Seattle with his wife and their dog, Ikkyu.

Last revised: February 17, 2022

 

Acknowledgments

Many thanks to SABR members Malcolm Allen and Rory Costello. Their careful review of this biography, and the numerous additions they suggested, significantly improved the final product.

This biography was also reviewed by Norman Macht and fact-checked by David Kritzler.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also consulted Baseball-reference.com and Retrosheet.org.

 

Notes

1 Robert Whiting, The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime (New York, NY: Warner Books, 2004): 33.

2 Made the Cut, “Ichiro Suzuki Defensive Highlights,” March 21, 2020, You Tube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnzgoNELh3w, (last accessed February 4, 2022).

3 The other six are Lou Brock, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor and Honus Wagner.

4 Ichiro’s name is often incorrectly translated as “first boy.” Reddit, “Baseball,” https://www.reddit.com/r/baseball/comments/dah7c/the_japanese_name_ichiro_is_often_written_郎, (last accessed January 6, 2022).

5 Dennis Normile, “Museum Showcases Ichiro’s Baseball Career,” The New York Times, August 27, 2012.

6 Whiting, The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime: 5-6.

7 Whiting, The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime: 10.

8 All of the information about Ichiro’s childhood and high school career came from the book, Whiting, The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime: 1-12.

9 Matt Monagan, “Baseball in Hawaii, As Cool as it Sounds,” MLB.com, https://www.mlb.com/news/hawaiian-winter-league-look-back, (last accessed February 5, 2022).

10 Sports Team History, “The Career of Ichiro Suzuki,” https://sportsteamhistory.com/the-career-of-ichiro-suzuki-yesteryears-player, (last accessed January 5, 2022).

11 Narumi Komatsu (translated by Peter Gabriel), Ichiro on Ichiro, (Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books, 2004): 167.

12 Whiting, The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime: 16.

13 Michael Knisley, “Baseball,” The Sporting News, March 19, 2001: 13.

14 Komatsu, Ichiro on Ichiro, 169.

15 Whiting, The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime: 18.

16 Komatsu, Ichiro on Ichiro, 182-185.

17 Whiting, The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime: 20.

18 Whiting, The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave from Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime: 96-106.

19 Tyler Conway, “MLB-NPB Japan Posting System: Explaining Rules, Format, and Bid Process,” BleacherReport, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1831683-mlb-npb-japan-posting-system-explaining-rules-format-and-bid-process, (last accessed January 10, 2022).

20 Jake Kring-Schreifels, “The Colossal Legacy of Ichiro’s Rookie Season, 20 Years Later,” The Ringer, https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2021/9/14/22664414/ichiro-suzuki-seattle-mariners-2001-rookie-season-legacy, (last accessed January 10, 2022).

21 Kring-Schreifels, “The Colossal Legacy of Ichiro’s Rookie Season, 20 Years Later.”

22 Komatsu, Ichiro on Ichiro, 21.

23 Komatsu, Ichiro on Ichiro, 30-31.

24 Komatsu, Ichiro on Ichiro, 43-44.

25 Komatsu, Ichiro on Ichiro, 5.

26 Matt Kelly, “The Best 60-Game Stretches in MLB History”, MLB.com, https://www.mlb.com/news/best-60-game-performances-in-mlb-history, (last accessed January 14, 2022). Kelly’s article says Hornsby batted .466 between June 21, and August 29, 1924. But Hornsby played in 71 games during that time period, not 60. From July 1 to August 29, 1924, Hornsby played in 60 games, and went 106 for 218, batting .486 over that period.

27 Tim Korte, “The Record Falls: Ichiro Breaks Sisler’s 84-year-old Mark for Hits,” Indiana Gazette, October 2, 2004.

28 Misc. Baseball, “Some Trivia About Ichiro’s 262 Hit Season in 2004”,

https://miscbaseball.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/some-trivia-about-ichiros-262-hit-season-in-2004/, (last accessed January 15, 2022).

29 Jack Curry, “Ichiro Suzuki Delivers Memorable End to World Baseball Classic,” The New York Times, March 24, 2009.

30 Corey Brock, Rustin Dodd, Jayson Jenks, “Untold Stories of Ichiro: Wrestling With Griffey, All-Star Speeches, and Ichi-Wings,” The Athletic, https://theathletic.com/2678297/2021/07/06/untold-stories-of-ichiro-wrestling-with-griffey-all-star-speeches-and-ichi-wings/, (last accessed January 18, 2022).

31 Luis Torres, “Trade Retrospective: Mariners Trade Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees,” Beyond the Box Score, https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2018/1/31/16927274/ichiro-suzuki-mariners-yankees-trade-retrospective, (last accessed January 18, 2022).

32 ESPN.com News Services, “Ichiro Suzuki Wants to Return to Marlins, Play Until at Least 50,” https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/20868828/ichiro-suzuki-wants-return-miami-marlins-play-least-50, (last accessed January 19, 2022).

33 Wright Thompson, “When Winter Never Ends,” ESPN the Magazine, http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/22624561/ichiro-suzuki-return-seattle-mariners-resolve-internal-battle, (last accessed February 5, 2022).

34 Steve Freidman, “March 29, 2018: Ichiro Returns to the Seattle Mariners,” First Games Back Project, SABR Games Project, https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/march-29-2018-ichiro-returns-to-the-seattle-mariners/#_ednref11, (last accessed January 20, 2022).

35 Bill Shaikin, “Ichiro Suzuki Retires — for This Year, at Least,” Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2018.

36 Mariners Blog, From the Corner of Edgar and Dave, “Ichiro’s Historic Career Wraps up at the Tokyo Dome,” https://marinersblog.mlblogs.com/ichiros-historic-career-wraps-at-the-tokyo-dome-56ae3b5839d4, (last accessed January 21, 2022).

37 Larry Stone, “Ichiro Makes Seamless Transition From Star Player to Seattle Mariners Coach,” The Spokesman Review, https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/feb/29/larry-stone-ichiro-makes-seamless-transition-from-/, (last accessed January 25, 2022).

Full Name

Ichiro Suzuki

Born

October 22, 1973 at Nichi Kasugai-gun, Aichi (Japan)

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