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Ichiro to announce his retirement, late off with ovation

Iconic Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki, who has more hits in professional baseball than any other Japanese player, walked away from his career to thunderous applause on Thursday, hours after and informed source said he was set to announce his retirement. The news came as the Mariner's next prospective star from Japan, Yusei Kikuchi, making his major league debut as the club's starting pitcher at a sold-out Tokyo Dome against the Oakland Athletics. [1965] as Kikuchi recorded a 1-2-3 frame and their countrymen responded with a crescendo or cheers.

As word spread through the crowd of 46,451 at Tokyo Dome, the applause for Suzuki grew each time he went to the record or took his position in the field

After going out to the right to start the bottom of the eighth inning, Suzuki was called back as players from the A's and Mariners, as well as the fans, could send the unique international star a fitting off

(Ichiro acknowledged the crowd at Tokyo Dome as he is pulled into the eighth inning of a game against the Oakland Athletics in the season-opening series on March 21, 2019.)

The 45- year-old Suzuki has 3,089 major league hits after leaving Nippon Professional Baseball in 2000 with 1,278. A 10-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, Suzuki sets Major League Baseball's record for a single season with 262 in 2004.

Athletics skipper Bob Melvin, who managed Suzuki in Seattle in 2004, said the veteran's Career has been a special ride and noted the respect major leagues have for Suzuki, proven by his players and applauding when Ichiro came out of the game on Opening Day. "He's just an amazing guy," Melvin said. don't see it too often where the opposing team comes to the top step of the dugout and applauds a guy coming out of the game like that. It's a special career for the only guy who's done it in the fashion he has on two continents . "

Suzuki took the United States by storm in 2001, when it became a favorite on two continents with its unique batting style, speed and defense. That year he won the American League's Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards as he helped lead the Mariners to a record-tying 116-win season.

On Wednesday, Suzuki started his 28th professional season and 19th in the majors, where he spent most of his career in Seattle and had stints with the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins.

Los Angeles Angels superstar Albert Pujols, who made his MLB debut the same day as Ichiro in 2001 and is also considered a sure thing to enter The National Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot, recently talked about Suzuki's impact.

"He's been in the big leagues for 19 years and he's doing the same thing, not just the Seattle Mariners organization but also Japan and opening doors. to that market, "The Japanese media in Tempe, Arizona.

" That's why you see many Japanese players coming to America – because of the door he opens for them. "

Suzuki turned pro in 1992 as the fourth-round pick of th a Pacific League's Orix BlueWave, currently the Orix Buffaloes.

Although an obvious batting star is an 18-year-old, when it won the Western League batting title, Suzuki was shunned by Orix manager Shozo Doi because of a peculiar batting style That included a pendulum front-leg swing.

When Orix hired Hall of Famer Akira Ogi to manage in 1994, the iconoclastic skipper unleashed the young slugger's hidden genius. Suzuki changed his registered name to "Ichiro" and won the first of three straight PL MVP awards and seven straight batting titles.

The only NPB player with 3,000 career hits is Isao Harimoto's 3,085, which is the most ever in the league

What comes next for Suzuki is a good question. But John McLaren, who coached and managed Suzuki with the Mariners, recently spoke to him in Phoenix, Arizona, near the Mariners' spring training facility in Peoria and said it would not be managing.

"I asked him what is what you're going to do when you retire? "McLaren told Kyodo News by phone. "He said," No. Too much media. ""

(In April 2001, Ichiro got his first major league career hit in Seattle.)

(In October 2004, Ichiro drove his record-breaking 258th hit of the season in Seattle.)

(In September 2010, Ichiro reached 200 hits for the 10th consecutive season in Toronto.)

(In August 2016, Ichiro got his 3,000th major league career hit in Denver, Colorado. )

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