After 28 seasons as a professional baseball player — 18 of which were spent as one of the most dominant hitters in Major League Baseball — Japanese baseballing legend Ichiro Suzuki called it quits following the Seattle Mariners 2019 preseason game against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo.
After the Seattle Mariners took the field in the eighth inning — around 8:45 a.m. EST on Thursday, March 21 — all of the players on the field other than Suzuki left for the dugout, who remained to wave to the crowd as he left the game and walked off the field for the last time.
As he walked off, Suzuki received a standing ovation from the crowd as he hugged each of his Seattle Mariner teammates one-by-one.
Ichiro — a former America League Rookie of the Year and American League MVP — has the most hits by any player in top-tier professional baseball leagues. He made his professional debut with the Orix BlueWave in the NPB in 1992 before joining the Seattle Mariners in 2001.
Over the course of his illustrious hall-of-fame career, Ichiro accumulated 4,367 hits in his professional career across Japan and the United States.
In his final career at-bat in front of 46,451 fans at the Tokyo Dome, Ichiro grounded out to the shortstop.
Japanese fans were merely happy to see Ichiro play in person for one last time, as many believed he had played his last inning in his native land years ago.
“Seven years ago, it appeared he had played for the last time in Japan. I don’t think anybody believed he would be active now,” Fumihiro Fujisawa, the head of the Japanese Association of Baseball Research, told The Associated Press.
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