Seattle Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki has announced his retirement, one day after becoming the oldest position player to start a season-opening game in the American League. Suzuki made the announcement at the Tokyo Dome in Japan during a 5-4 win over the Oakland Athletics in 12 innings. He had reportedly told his teammates before the game. The Kyodo News Service reported it during the game.
Upon leaving the field for the last time, Suzuki jogged across the field to thunderous applause from a sold-out crowd. His teammates, who had swiftly removed themselves to the dugout before Suzuki made his exit, greeted him with handshakes and hugs in front of the dugout. After the game, Ichiro received more emotional embraces from teammates and baseball legends there to see him play his last game.
Shortly after waving goodbye, the 45-year-old baseball star issued a statement via a Mariners press release that said: “I have achieved so many of my dreams in baseball, both in my career in Japan and, since 2001, in Major League Baseball. I am honored to end my big league career where it started, with Seattle, and think it is fitting that my last games as a professional were played in my home country of Japan. I want to thank not only the Mariners, but the Yankees and Marlins, for the opportunity to play in MLB, and I want to thank the fans in both the U.S. and Japan for all the support they have always given me.”
Suzuki had one of the most remarkable careers in the history of sports. He was the first position player from Japan to play in Major League Baseball and in his rookie season, he became the second player to win the American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Awards in the same season. That year, Barry Bonds won National League M.V.P.
Since his professional debut for the Orix BlueWave in 1992, Suzuki has had 4,367 hits through 28 professional baseball seasons on two continents. Throughout his career, he was named to 10 All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Glove awards. He finishes his major league career with a .311 batting average and 1,420 runs scored in 2,653 games.