ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Life

Ichiro says goodbye to baseball after 28 seasons

'Magician with the bat' amassed 4,367 hits in Japan and US

Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki returns to the field for waiting fans after the second game of the MLB opening series against the Oakland Athletics at Tokyo Dome on Thursday.   © AP

TOKYO -- Legendary Japanese baseball player Ichiro Suzuki picked up his bat for the last time Thursday, retiring at age 45 as one of the greatest to ever play the game with 4,367 combined hits in Japan and the U.S.

“I have achieved so many of my dreams in baseball both in my career in Japan and, since 2001, in Major League Baseball," Suzuki said Thursday. "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."

The Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics were in Japan for a two-game season-opening series at the Tokyo Dome Wednesday and Thursday, with Suzuki batting ninth and playing right field. He went 0-for-4 Thursday and was taken out in the middle of the eighth inning.

"I wanted to get one hit for the fans," Suzuki said in a news conference after the game, drawing to a close a career that spanned nine seasons in Japan and 19 in the U.S.

Suzuki had already begun his transition from the field to the front office last May, when he took a position as special assistant adviser to the Mariners. Itching to return to the majors, however, he signed a minor-league deal with the Mariners and was invited to training camp. But the 45-year-old struggled in spring training, going hitless in 24 at-bats before entering Wednesday's game.

Suzuki was drafted fourth by the Orix Blue Wave in 1992 out of Aikodai Meiden High School in Nagoya. He became the first player in Japan's professional league to collect 200 hits in a season in 1994, starting a string of seven straight seasons of leading the league in hitting.

Upon moving to the Mariners in 2001, Suzuki led the MLB in hits with 242 and in stolen bases with 56 on his way to MVP and Rookie of the Year honors. He became the MLB's single-season record holder for hits with 262 in 2004 as part of a decadelong streak of more than 200 per season. Teammates and coaches often characterized Suzuki as "a magician with the bat."

Suzuki was traded to the New York Yankees in July 2012 and then moved on to the Miami Marlins in 2015 before returning to the Mariners last year.

"I am extremely happy I am able to wear this [Mariners] uniform on this day," Suzuki told reporters Thursday.

The Japanese legend made history again in June 2016 when he surpassed Pete Rose's record of 4,256 career hits. He ranks 22nd all-time in MLB history with 3,089 hits.

Suzuki also competed for Japan in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics. He was a major contributor to Japan's victories in those tournaments, producing the winning hit in the 10th inning of the 2009 championship game against South Korea.

Ichiro Suzuki, second from the top left, and other Orix Blue Wave rookies are introduced in 1991.   © Kyodo

 

Suzuki celebrates his 200-hit season in 1994, becoming the first player to do so in Japan's professional league.

 

Suzuki, second from the left, celebrates Kobe-based Orix Blue Wave's championship in 1995, months after the city was hit by one of Japan's most deadly earthquakes.   © Kyodo

 

Suzuki, left, shakes hands with then-Seattle Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln in 2000 as he announces his entrance into the MLB. 

 

Suzuki records his first at-bat against the Oakland Athletics in 2001.   © Kyodo

 

Suzuki records his 262nd hit of the 2004 season, which is currently the single season record.   © Kyodo

 

Suzuki celebrating Japan's victory at the first World Baseball Classic in 2006.   © Kyodo

 

Suzuki collects his 200th hit for the 10th consecutive season in 2010.   © Kyodo

 

Suzuki tips his helmet to cheering fans after logging his 3,000th major league hit in 2016.   © Kyodo

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends April 19th

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media