Ichiro retires: Baseball legend bids farewell in Tokyo

Ichiro retires: Baseball legend bids farewell in Tokyo

Ichiro retires: Baseball legend bids farewell in Tokyo

Ichiro Suzuki announced his retirement Thursday after his final game with the Seattle Mariners, played in the country where he started his 27-year career.

Having played in both Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball (Japan's version of MLB), Ichiro collected more than 4,000 hits in his career. He got a chance at a storybook ending at the jammed Tokyo Dome when he came up with two outs, a runner on second base and a tie score in the eighth inning, but grounded out.

Ichiro hit the ground running immediately in the MLB, winning the American League MVP in his first year. The noise from the sellout crowd of 45,000 diminished after his exit. I can see myself writing over 10,000 words, forgetting to watch my beloved Zags win their NCAA tournament game, and-realistically-missing my entire bachelor party this weekend because I'm frantically typing an ode to one of the most legendary, unforgettable baseball players of all time over a keyboard covered in tears-both happy and sad.

There's nothing like baseball.

Santana, one of many Mariners new to the lineup, had no trouble at the plate.

Suzuki, 45, is a 10-time MLB All-Star and a 10-time Gold Glove victor. His combined total of 4,367 is a professional record. He received a hug from another Mariners legend, Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. I saw Ichiro chat with teammates as expected, but then I saw him help and teach.

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The Oakland Athletics, a team Ichiro went to battle against for the majority of his career had nothing but respect for the Mariners great.

He added, "I want to thank not only the Mariners, but the Yankees and Marlins, for the opportunity to play in Major League Baseball, and I want to thank the fans in both the US and Japan for all the support they have always given me". However, Ichiro did; In 2009, Ichiro visited the grave of Sisler while in St. Louis for the 2009 All-Star Game as a return gesture to the Sisler family who traveled to see him break the record in 2004.

When he made the move to Seattle in 2001 - becoming the first Japanese position player to sign with an Major League Baseball team - Ichiro emphatically made his mark. His last start here was in June, when he beat the Yomiuri Giants, allowing two hits and striking out three in seven scoreless innings for the Lions. He was a phenom from the moment he arrived in the United States from Japan.

But, of course, if Ichiro could still do that, could still place the ball at his discretion, as his former batting coach, Paul Molitor, was convinced he would do, he wouldn't have been trotting off the emptied field in Tokyo for the final time moments later.

After the game, the Mariners posted a picture of Suzuki's silhouette on the Japanese flag. Seattle opens the regular season at home March 28 against the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

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