Ichiro Retires

 

A few years ago, Ichiro Suzuki said his goal was to play major league baseball until he was 50. Well, that’s one baseball goal Ichiro won’t attain. Yesterday, March 21, 2019, the 45-year-old told the Mariners that today’s game would be his last. It was a homecoming of sorts for Ichiro, as the Mariners started the season with a two-game set against the Oakland A’s in Tokyo, Japan. Although the Mariners swept the two games, Ichiro went hitless in both games but received a well-deserved standing ovation as he was removed from the second game in the bottom of the eighth. Thus ended one of the most unique careers of all time.

Ichiro, of course, came to the major leagues at age 27, joining the Seattle Mariners after playing nine years in Japan. He had owned the league in Japan winning batting titles in all seven seasons in which he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the honor. How he would do in the majors was an open question. He answered that question in a hurry winning a batting title, the Rookie of the Year and the MVP for a team that won 116 games in the regular season.

He would slap out 200 or more hits for the next decade including a major league record 262 hits in 2004 en route to his second batting crown (with a personal high of .372). He joined the 3,000-hit club in 2016 at the age of 42 with a stand-up triple, and he finishes his career with 3,089 hits good for 23rd all-time in the major leagues, 509 stolen bases (at an impressive 81% clip), a .311 career batting average, and ten All Star Games (here’s a link to his statistical record at Baseball-Reference). Ichiro was also no slacker with the glove, winning ten Gold Gloves as an outfielder (mostly in Right Field). He showed that defensive prowess and a cannon arm early on in his eighth major league game as he threw out Oakland speedster Terrence Long.

Yeah, he didn’t walk much nor did he have much power; but, with his bat, glove and legs he still helped his teams win a fair share of games, and he was fun as hell to watch especially in contrast to today’s increasingly boring game of home runs and strikeouts and strikeouts and strikeouts… Off the ballfield, Ichiro has always kept a low profile. Most likely the next time we’ll see him is 2025 when he should be elected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible. Until then;

Well played, sir.

There are 12 comments.

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  1. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Fun player. Every ground ball he hit was exciting because he could leg out a lot of them. I fear he may be the last of the breed of player who doesn’t always look to swing for the fences and isn’t humiliated by striking out. Love seeing the hitter who looks to make contact and creating havoc on the base paths. The only player similar to him playing now I can think of is his teammate Dee Gordon.

    • #1
  2. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    He was a fun player to watch, and he had an incredible arm as well. I loved watching a ball land in his portion of the field, because he could fire it back infield like no one else.

    • #2
  3. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Ichiro had amazing bat control. Really nice that he could retire in a Seattle uniform (as opposed to, yuck, pinstripes).  

    He pitched an inning several years back.

    • #3
  4. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    The MLB Morning Lineup podcast paid a great tribute to Ichiro on today’s show. It was fun to listen to them talk not only about his greatness on the field, but his sense of humor as well. I wish we could get a listen in to one of his pre-AllStar game pep talks that he was famous for giving.

    • #4
  5. SpiritO'78 Inactive
    SpiritO'78
    @SpiritO78

    I’ll remember the unique batting stance and swing more than anything. Japanese ball players, most of them, have completely different approaches to the plate. Less power overall, but they hit for average and pick their spots.

    • #5
  6. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    He really was one of the great ball players of all time. A pure natural who on top of his incredible God given abilities worked hard to perfect them. He will be missed. We were blessed to have him play all these years on our country. God be with him. 

    • #6
  7. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I am of two minds about this “curtain call.”

    Major League Baseball would have a cow today if it had an owner such as the late Bill Veeck, who infamously sent up the 3’7″ Eddie Gaedel as a pinch hitter (uniform number: 1/8) for the St. Louis Browns in 1951. They disciplined Ted Turner for trying to manage the Braves in 1977. (According to then NL President Chub Feeney anyone owning stock in a team was prevented from managing. That’s not in the rules or the MLB Constitution. And would be shocking to Connie Mack.)

    Ichiro was so bad last season the Mariners released him in May. But suddenly, he’s good enough to take up a spot on the Mariners 40-man and 25-man rosters provided the MLB honchos can pimp him out for a crowd in Tokyo. Either you’re going to allow this kind of promotional shenanigans or you’re going to harp on the sanctity of the game. Choose one.

    • #7
  8. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    [Deleted for stupidity].

    This was originally written in response to EJ’s post, which I found, and still find, overly harsh with references to “pimp him out” and “promotional shenanigans.”  At the time, it hadn’t sunk in that these were real games.  While that’s certainly a factor to be considered, I think the combination of Ichiro, Japan, the Mariners, early season,and a likely Hall of Famer provides a solid rebuttal to “integrity of the game” arguments.

    • #8
  9. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    EJHill (View Comment):
    Either you’re going to allow this kind of promotional shenanigans or you’re going to harp on the sanctity of the game. Choose one.

    Or maybe you can just celebrate the great game of baseball and the men who play this kids game and bring us joy. I grew up in awe of players like Lou Brock and Tony Oliva and Roberto Clemente – these were the guys I wanted to play like. And then my sons grew up with their favorites and now I have grandsons who will have their favorites.  To put it in terms of “choosing” between shenanigans and sanctity is ridiculous.

    • #9
  10. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    [Deleted for stupidity].

    This was originally written in response to EJ’s post, which I found, and still find, overly harsh with references to “pimp him out” and “promotional shenanigans.” At the time, it hadn’t sunk in that these were real games. While that’s certainly a factor to be considered, I think the combination of Ichiro, Japan, the Mariners, early season,and a likely Hall of Famer provides a solid rebuttal to “integrity of the game” arguments.

    Totally agree. Lots of superstars at the end of their careers get a send off goodbye game. It usually comes at the end of a season. This time, with the game in Japan they did it at the beginning of a season. 

    • #10
  11. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    EJHill (View Comment):

    I am of two minds about this “curtain call.”

    Major League Baseball would have a cow today if it had an owner such as the late Bill Veeck, who infamously sent up the 3’7″ Eddie Gaedel as a pinch hitter (uniform number: 1/8) for the St. Louis Browns in 1951. They disciplined Ted Turner for trying to manage the Braves in 1977. (According to then NL President Chub Feeney anyone owning stock in a team was prevented from managing. That’s not in the rules or the MLB Constitution. And would be shocking to Connie Mack.)

    Ichiro was so bad last season the Mariners released him in May. But suddenly, he’s good enough to take up a spot on the Mariners 40-man and 25-man rosters provided the MLB honchos can pimp him out for a crowd in Tokyo. Either you’re going to allow this kind of promotional shenanigans or you’re going to harp on the sanctity of the game. Choose one.

    Wow.  Who pooped in your popcorn today, sparky?

    • #11
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    EJHill (View Comment):
    Either you’re going to allow this kind of promotional shenanigans or you’re going to harp on the sanctity of the game. Choose one.

    False dichotomy.

    • #12

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