Ichiro Suzuki was an accomplished Japanese professional baseball outfielder who has made his mark in both the ‘Nippon Professional Baseball’ (NPB) in Japan and the ‘Major League Baseball’ (MLB) in the US.
His ‘NPB’ career has witnessed many feats, such as 7 consecutive ‘All-Star’ appearances, 3 ‘Most Valuable Player’ (MVP) awards, 7 ‘Golden Glove’ awards, 7 ‘Best Nine’ awards, 3 ‘Matsutaro Shoriki’ awards, and 3 ‘Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize’ wins.
He made his ‘MLB’ debut in April 2001, for the ‘Seattle Mariners,’ and with this, he became the first ever Japanese-born position player signed with an ‘MLB’ team.
He played for the ‘Seattle Mariners’ for twelve seasons and thereafter, joined the ‘New York Yankees’ for two and a half seasons. Following this, he joined the ‘Miami Marlins.’
This ace outfielder set several ‘MLB records,’ including 262 hits in a single season, ten consecutive 200-hit seasons, the most number of hits in interleague play, and the most number of hits by a foreign-born player.
His ‘MLB’ accomplishments include ten consecutive ‘MLB All-Star’ appearances, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, the ‘Rookie of the Year Award,’ ten consecutive ‘Gold Glove’ awards, and three ‘Silver Slugger’ awards among others.
His combined major league career, including the ‘NPB’ and the ‘MLB’ has seen him accumulating the most hits that any player in any top-tier professional league has ever achieved in the history of the game.
Ichiro Suzuki, perhaps the greatest pure hitter we have ever known, was removed from the Seattle Mariners roster and has moved immediately to their front office.
◉ Birthday : October 22, 1973
◉ Born In : Aichi, Japan
◉ Height : 180cm
◉ Spouse : Ex Yumiko Fukushima (M. 1999)
◉ ‘NPB’ debut : in July 1992 for the ‘Orix BlueWave’ and played for the team for nine seasons.
He became part of a junior baseball team at the age of 7 and would often practice with his father. At the age of 12, he was determined to become a professional baseball player, and with this, his training sessions with his dad became more stringent and uncompromising.
His remarkably strong arm led him to predominantly play as a pitcher, rather than an outfielder, in his high school team. While in high school, he garnered a cumulative batting average of .505 with 19 home runs.
Since 1996, the ‘Ichiro Cup,’ a boys’ league tournament named after Ichiro, is held in his hometown and its surrounding areas. Ichiro serves as its chairman and remains present at the last game and the awards ceremony every year.
In 1999, he married Yumiko Fukushima in Santa Monica, California. Yumiko worked as a Japanese TV announcer. They don’t have any children.
Following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Ichiro donated ¥100 million (US$1.25 million) to the ‘Japanese Red Cross’ toward disaster recovery efforts.
Mariners legend Ichiro Suzuki insists he’s not retiring from baseball. He’s not done playing, in his mind anyway. That’s the hard part, walking away from the game after 27 seasons in Japan and the Major Leagues.
So the 44-year-old icon will transition in a unique way, accepting the opportunity to finish this season as a special assistant advisor with the Mariners, without shutting the door on a potential return to the playing field in 2019.
“When I start using a cane, that’s the time that I think I should retire,” Ichiro said.
① Hitting for contact
Across his NPB and MLB careers, he collected more hits than MLB hit king Pete Rose, and his 3,089 stateside hits rank first among all players since 2000. He led the Majors in hits seven times, and his 262 knocks in 2004 broke an 84-year-old record held by George Sisler.
② Playing defense in right field
At his best, Ichiro was an exceptionally rangy outfielder with a great arm. Since 2002, the first year UZR was calculated, his 125.9 mark in that stat is nearly 40 runs better than the next best right fielder, Jason Heyward.
③ Running the bases
Ichiro was not the most prodigious basestealer of his era, but he stole 509 bases in the Majors and rarely made mental mistakes on the basepaths.
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He is known for impressive batting practice power displays and there was always talk that he could hit way more home runs if he wanted.
Though a lefty swinger in games, he also warmed up by taking right-handed swings and looked good doing it.
At times, it was easy to get the sense that Ichiro could do practically anything he wanted on a baseball field, and that what he wanted to do was collect tons of hits and play spectacular defense and run the bases well.
It worked out pretty well for him.