Ichiro Suzuki Retires From Professional Baseball

Ichiro Suzuki Retires From Professional Baseball

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 an informed source said he was set to announce his retirement.

In what would prove to be his final at-bat, Ichiro made everyone hold their breath as he hustled down the line after a soft grounder to shortstop.

"I have ended my career and chose to retire", Ichiro said, speaking in Japanese at a news conference after a 5-4 win over Oakland in 12 innings.

The 45-year-old called it quits for the Seattle Mariners after an emotional two-game series against the Oakland Athletics in front of adoring Japanese fans that capped an Major League Baseball career stretching back to 2001.

He's baseball's all-time hit king, was named to 10 straight American League All-Star teams, and is one of only two players ever to win MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season.

Ichiro, who went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his final Major League game, was substituted out of the game in the eighth inning. His 4,367 hits are the most ever at the top professional level.

He also stole 509 bases and was a 10-time Gold Glove victor and 10-time All-Star. "I knew it was going to begin at the Tokyo Dome, where my journey as a major leaguer began".

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"I'll be known as the 'Man Formerly Known as Ichiro," he cracked.

"I think that it takes great courage to go and try challenge in the Major League Baseball", he continued, directing his message to young aspiring Japanese players. There will be no regrets no matter what the outcome.

Some people may forget that before Ichiro returned to finish his career with the Mariners, he spent time with the Florida Marlins.

He is expected to continue to work with the Mariners, having started a new role as "special assistant to the chairman" a year ago. 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. And no one like Ichiro.

Too often, Suzuki looked like a 45-year-old trying to hang on. From historical accomplishments to the lighter side of the sport, Ichiro is one of the more entertaining players to take the field playing America's pastime. Mike Trout is the kind of talent this sport needs, but perhaps Shohei Ohtani, once he is healthy enough to take the mound, will become the new face of the Major League Baseball thanks to his personality and extremely rare abilities in both pitching and hitting.

Rob Dibble, then a prominent commentator on ESPN's Baseball Tonight, said he'd run naked through Times Square if Ichiro won the batting title-believing that the talent gap between Japanese and MLB pitching was so dramatic that Ichiro wouldn't succeed.

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