Ichiro Finishes a Magnificent MLB career in Japan
Baseball legend and Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki formally retired after a 27-year professional baseball career, following the Mariner’s win over the Oakland Athletics in a game played Thursday at the Tokyo Dome in his native Japan, as stated by Mike Chiari in the Bleacher Report.
Suzuki, who was most often identified simply by his first name, Ichiro, and whose uniform was labeled with his first name, began his remarkable professional career in his native Japan. As reported in a Baseball Reference article, Ichiro is a 5’11”, 185-pound, right hand throwing, left hand batting right fielder. He played his first nine professional seasons, beginning in 1992 at age 18, with the Orix Blue Wave of the Japan Pacific League. Over his career in Japan, Ichiro earned a .353 cumulative batting average, playing in 951 games with 1278 hits, and 529 RBIs. According to Gritdaily, Ichiro became a young super-star in his Japanese career, winning three straight Pacific League MVP awards and seven golden gloves. In 2000, Ichiro was recruited by the Seattle Mariners where he began his Major League Baseball career. As referenced in Baseball Reference, from 2001 through the 2018 season, Ichiro played 19 years of MLB in the United States, mostly with the Seattle Mariners, with whom he re-signed for the 2019 season and from whom he fittingly retired. His outstanding career statistics include playing in 2651 games, posting a cumulative 0.311 batting average, hitting 3089 singles, 362 doubles, 96 triples, 111 home runs and stealing 509 bases, reflecting his great speed.
Ichiro played in ten MLB All-Star games, won countless baseball awards including the 2001 MLB MVP award, AL Rookie of the Year, ten Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger awards. His extreme durability and physical strength was demonstrated by his having played in all 162 regular season games in 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Ichiro’s dominance as a baseball player was no accident. From his earliest days, his father worked to ensure Ichiro’s athletic success. As recounted in Notable Biographies, Ichiro, meaning “first boy”, got his name despite being the second son born to the family. His father, Nobuyuki, correctly believed that Ichiro possessed natural talent for baseball, and the young Ichiro began practicing at age three in his backyard with a tiny bat and ball. In elementary school, Nobuyuki, a former high school baseball player, put Ichiro through four hours of batting drills each day. Despite the time spent in his baseball training, Ichiro excelled in high school.
Ichiro married Yumiko Fukushima in 1999 in California according to Players Wiki. The couple does not as yet have children but do have a pet dog named Ikkyu. Ichiro is exceedingly generous in helping people in need, having donated $1.25 million in 2011 to the Japanese Red Cross to help tsunami and earthquake victims. He is an honored chairman of the Ichiro Cup, a six-month boys baseball tournament composed of over 200 teams in Japan. Since 1996, the game has been held held in his hometown and he attends every championship game and awards ceremony.
The career and life of Ichiro Suzuki can teach us that the path to success is not really a secret. As stated by the legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi, “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the task at hand, and the determination that whether we will or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” Ichiro’s life personifies this philosophy.