What a ride l Editor's Note

By Brandon Gustafson | May 09, 2018

If this is indeed the end, then oh, what a ride it has been.

Ten All Star appearances, three Silver Sluggers, 10 Gold Gloves, an MVP award, an All Star Game MVP Award, the Rookie of the Year Award in 2001, two batting titles, the single season hit king, and of course, the man was an international icon.

Who else would I be talking about?

Of course I’m writing about Ichiro!

Last week, it was announced that Ichiro was stepping down from his role as a player and is now a special assistant in a front office role. He still wears a full uniform, partakes in batting practice and pregame warm ups, and really does whatever he wants except for playing in a game. And frankly he deserves it!

After star players Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, and Randy Johnson went to other teams, Ichiro stepped in as the face of the franchise and held that title until he was traded to the Yankees in 2012. Along the way, he was one of the most dynamic players in all of baseball.

Every kid who loved baseball in the Pacific Northwest loved and idolized Ichiro. I know so many kids who had the same Matrix-themed Ichiro poster after his rookie season where he promptly won the Rookie of the Year Award and the American League MVP Award, becoming just the second player to win both in the same season.

After dominating Nippon Professional Baseball (Japan) for the Orix BlueWave he took his talents to the U.S. and became an icon here in Seattle.

Every kid who played baseball stuck their front arm out with the bat and held it out front like Ichiro did before each pitch.

There’s a phrase in baseball that says, “Chicks dig the long ball (home run).”

Ichiro made getting singles and stealing bases sexy. Nobody played the game like him.

My family shared season tickets in right field right behind Ichiro and it was always awesome to sit and watch how he prepared and went about his business. He was always stretching and staying loose, and that was a large part of how he stayed so healthy throughout his career.

He was also the first, and only, player in the MLB to have their first name on the back of their jersey. Yes, his last name is Suzuki, but you never call him that. He’s the man with one name.

He was amazing at the plate, racking up over 3,000 hits in the MLB and over 1,200 during his time in Japan.

He was also amazing in the field, robbing home runs and throwing guys out who dared try to take an extra base on him.

Google “Ichiro Star Wars Throw” or “Ichiro Spiderman Catch” and be amazed. They are two of the more amazing plays you’ll ever see.

It was cool having him come back for a bit this year, but there are guys who are younger and more effective than he is who need to play, and it looks like he understood that.

Still, it was awesome seeing him rob a home run in left field last month.

I actually went to the game last Wednesday, which ended up being his last game. He made a great play in left field early in the game.

Vintage Ichiro.

There are some rumors and speculation that he’ll play the first game for Seattle next year as they open the season against Oakland in Japan. Who knows?

He hasn’t “officially” retired, but the writing is on the wall.

If this is the end, it’s been an honor to have watched him play since I was just 6 years old.

The “stomp, stomp, clap” chant at Safeco will never be just that, it will always be that chant while cheering, “I-chi-ro! I-chi-ro!”

Good luck with your future endeavors, 51. I know that we’ll see you some time down the line to retire that number 51 at Safeco alongside Griffey’s 24 and Edgar’s 11, and of course, see you in Cooperstown.

 

 

Comments (1)
Posted by: Joe Kunzler | May 16, 2018 11:35

Great column!

 

I hope you will write the same about Community Transit's Emmett Heath and Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson when the time comes!



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