In Ichiro Suzuki’s first game in the Major Leagues, the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland A’s 5-4. In Ichiro Suzuki’s last game? Yup, the Mariners beat the Oakland A’s 5-4.
We knew that his career would come to an end in the very near future, but no one could have predicted such a perfect retirement for one of the game’s most consistent players at the plate in Ichiro. Not only did he retire in a game with the same team he started with against the same team he began his career against with the same final score, but the game happened in his home country of Japan, where his career started.
In another universe, Suzuki would be retiring with the most hits in the history of Major League Baseball. Suzuki’s professional playing career began in Japan in 1992 when he was 18 years old, but he didn’t find his way to the MLB until 2001.
In his rookie season, he won the AL Rookie of the Year award and the AL MVP. In every season from 2001-2010, Ichiro recorded at least 200 hits, had a batting average above .300 won a gold glove and made the All-Star game. More than anything else, Ichiro was a model for consistency and maybe the biggest ‘what if’ in baseball over the last 30 years.
Ichiro is going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and go down as one of the best hitters in the history of baseball. He didn’t hit for power, but he was as respected at the plate as anyone else during his time in the MLB. His career in the MLB spanned 18 years with his first 12 being one of the most remarkable stretches of baseball we’ve ever seen.