From the Far East to the Northwest

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Height: 5-9
Weight: 160
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
D.O.B.: Oct. 22, 1973
Born: Kasugai, Aichi
Prefecture, Japan
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· Related sites
· Ichiro in archive
1973: Ichiro born on Oct. 22, in Toyoyama, Aichi prefecture.

1976: By age of 3, Ichiro already has his first baseball glove.

1991: Finishes Aiko-Dai high school in 1991 and is drafted by the Orix BlueWave.

1992: Makes debut for Orix BlueWave, hitting .253 in 40 games, but spending most of the time in minors. He has 95 plate appearances with 24 hits, five doubles and no home runs.

1994: Orix BlueWave changes managers and Ichiro makes huge debut. In 130 games (the Japanese maximum) he hits .385 with 210 hits, 41 doubles, 13 HR's 300 total bases, and 29 stolen bases. His .385 mark wins the Japanese batting title (his first of seven consecutive titles) and his 210 hits is a record still today. Ichiro is named MVP.

1995: Leads league in several categories again. Some of the records: 104 runs, 179 hits, 285 total bases and led outfielders with 14 assists and five double plays. Wins batting title with a .342 average, is RBI leader and again is named MVP.

1996: Wins batting title (.356), third gold glove and named MVP.

April 16 — June 25, 1997: Establishes record of 216 consecutive at bats without striking out.

1997: Ichiro has 185 hits, scores 95 runs, hits a Japanese career-high 91 RBI, all while hitting . 345.

1998: Hits .358 with 71 RBI and 181 hits. Wins batting title and gold glove for fifth straight time.

1999: Among his usual offensive accolades, Ichiro also sports a 1.000 fielding percentage.

2000: Sets single-season PCL batting average record with .387, while knocking in 73 RBI.

April 2, 2001: Makes major league debut with Mariners, going three-for-five.

April 22-May 18, 2001: Ichiro compiles 23-game hitting streak, also named rookie of the month for April.

May 2001: Wins rookie of the month again.

July 2001: Voted to All-Star game with record 3,373,035 votes. Just the sixth rookie ever to start an All-Star game. He goes 1-for-3 in the game with a single coming off Randy Johnson in the first.

Aug. 28,2001: Collects 200th hit, matching Darin Erstad (2000) as fastest player to reach 200 hits since 1935.

Aug. 2001: Leads league with 51 hits in a month and wins rookie of the month.

Sept. 2001: Wins rookie of the month.

2001 season results: Wins AL batting title with .350 average, leads league in stolen bases with 56 and is named AL MVP.

2002 season results: Ichiro completes the season with 208 hits, 111 runs, 27 doubles and a .321 average, and stole 31 bases. He led the M's in average and was second overall in the majors in hits.

2003 season results: Ichiro finishes the season with 212 hits, 111 runs scored, and knocking in a career-high 13 home runs. Led majors with 66 multi-hit games.

2004 season results: Sets Major League single-season hits record with 262, surpassing George Sisler's 257 set in 1920. Leads Majors with .372 average, winning second batting title. Ichiro also set a club record with 80 multi-hit games, again leading the Majors. Also stole 36 bases and scored 101 runs.

In 2000, the M's took a chance on a Japanese phenomenon named Ichiro. The speedy, smart, clutch-hitting outfielder has since become possibly the best player in baseball.

Nobuyuki Suzuki, Ichiro's father, is largely responsible for helping develop Ichiro's athletic talent. From the time Ichiro was 8, the elder Suzuki would help him practice his fielding, throwing and hitting. They also made countless trips to a local batting center. These practice sessions continued through Ichiro's high school years, culminating in Ichiro being drafted out of high school by the Orix BlueWave.

Ichiro spent most of the time with the BlueWave minor-league team from 1991-93. But after a managerial change, Ichiro became a starter in 1994, and took over the league. Among numerous accomplishments, Ichiro holds nine Japanese baseball records, including the following:

· Seven-time PL batting champ
· 210 hits in a season (1994)
· Reached base in 69 consecutive games
· 216 straight at-bats without a strikeout

While in Japan he also won three MVP awards and in his last season (2000) batting .387.

Ichiro and wife Yumiko Fukushima yearned to come to Seattle, especially after Ichiro spent spring training with the Mariners in 1999.

The Seattle Mariners were awarded the negotiating rights to Ichiro in 2000. In blind bidding among several major-league teams, the Mariners submitted the highest figure — a staggering $13.125 million (1.4 billion yen) that went to the BlueWave. The Mariners then signed him to a three-year, $14 million contract.

Ichiro's agent, Tony Attanasio of San Diego, said one way to measure the impact Ichiro's signing had in Japan would be if a Japanese team signed the likes of Derek Jeter or Mark McGwire. "When you mail Ichiro something from the States, you only have to use that name on the address and he gets it. He's that big." Ichiro is the Michael Jordan of Japan, so popular and so watched that he and Yumiko, well known herself in Japan as a sportscaster, had to go to Los Angeles to be married.

In 2001, Ichiro Suzuki became the first Japanese position player to play in the major leagues (he was closely followed by right fielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo of the New York Mets). He has not only been embraced by the fans in Seattle but has been recognized around the majors as an extremely skilled player.

Highlights from his first season in Seattle:

· 2001 AL MVP
· 2001 Rookie of the Year
· Led ML in batting average (.350)
· Led ML in stolen bases (56)
· Had 51 hits in August, 2001, which led the league
· Set M's club record with 242 hits
· First player since 1980 with three hitting streaks of 15 games or more

In 2002, Ichiro struggled to repeat his rookie-year success. He had 208 hits, 111 runs, 27 doubles and a .321 average, and stole 31 bases. He led the M's in average and was second overall in the majors in hits.

As for last season? And the future?

"I'm still young at professional baseball here in the States," said Ichiro in March 2003. "I just am loving the experience and want to play every day, so I will never ask for a day off."

What Ichiro does best is play the game at his tempo, which forces the opposition to make serious adjustments. His speed on the bases, speed with the bat, arm strength, defense and amazing hitting ability all shift the opposition out of their comfort zone and puts them firmly on the defensive. Pitchers must change up their "out" pitch because he hits anything, anywhere. Infielders must rush and hurry throws.

Defensively, his arm gets respect — baserunners are stuck with singles rather than end up on an Ichiro highlight reel for an attempted double.

At a mere 160 pounds, Ichiro breaks the standard of baseball players and changes the way everyone around him plays.

Related sites

Ichiro collectibles
Ichiro's Pepsi commercials
Wishing for Ichiro to hit .400
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Orix BlueWave info's Ichiro page Ichiro page

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