Seattle Mariners legend Ichiro Suzuki made a mark in MLB, and he recalls encounters with other legends from different professional sports organizations.
Seattle Mariners legend Ichiro Suzuki made a huge mark in MLB. He played 19 seasons in the majors, 14 of which were with the Mariners. He was also the first Japanese non-pitcher to be signed by a major league team. Suzuki grew inspired by other sports legends, including Michael Jordan.
Suzuki met Jordan in Chicago and watched him at a Chicago Bulls practice, and he immediately admired his work ethic. According to Kimmy Yam of NBC News, Suzuki (translated through Allen Turner) stated, “I just saw how serious Jordan was and how he was the guy who was doing it on his own and I saw the other guys following. That really had an impact on me.”
In 2002, Ichiro attended a Washington Wizards spring training game and watched Jordan on the court from five rows back. Jordan locked eyes with his biggest fan and shouted him out on the court.
“Michael Jordan, during the game, looked up at me and said, ‘Hey, what’s up, Ichiroooo!’” Suzuki said. “That was a great moment.”
This was before Suzuki became a baseball icon. Further along in his journey, he became so renowned for his talents that he captured NFL legend Tom Brady’s attention. Brady texted Suzuki to ask him what his secrets were in his spectacular performance. However, Suzuki didn’t know who Brady was at the time, according to Darin Gantt of NBC Sports.
Mariners veteran Ichiro Suzuki had a highly successful career
Suzuki accomplished quite a bit throughout his lengthy career. He earned 10 Gold Glove awards, five Rookie of the Months, three Rookie of the Years, two MVPs (one being an All-Star game MVP), two Silver Bats, two Silver Sluggers and several Player of the Years.
Over his entire career, he hit an average of .311/.355/.402 for an OPS of .757. He officially retired in 2019 after playing just two games with Seattle that season.
Suzuki made a lasting impact in MLB and helped pave the way for other Japanese players such as Shohei Ohtani, and his legendary achievements will never be forgotten.