Ichiro To Retire After Thursdays Game In Tokyo

Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki waves to spectators while leaving the field for defensive substitution in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the Major League baseball opening series against the Oakland Athletics at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo Thursday

Ichiro Suzuki was showered with cheers and chants Thursday night while taking his final bow in a magnificent career that lasted almost three decades when the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 in 12 innings in Tokyo. His 3,089 hits in Major League Baseball, combined with another 1,2278 in Japan, totals a record 4,337 hits.

The Baseball Hall of Fame announced immediately after the game that Ichiro will be eligible for induction in 2025, and he'll have a resume worthy of first-ballot enshrinement (if not 100 percent of the vote) as a 10-time MLB All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove victor.

"I don't think it is an understatement to say that Ichiro has had a bigger impact on the way Americans view Japan that really any other single person", Jim Small, the Major League Baseball global vice-president, told Reuters before Ichiro's announcement.

'Since spring training until now, Ichiro told us that it is a gift for him to play in Tokyo, ' Kikuchi finally said through a translator Thursday night. Ichiro is in the starting lineup for the Mariners in what might be his last game in the majors.

For years, Ichiro's at-bats were must-see TV in his homeland, with fans tuning in during breakfast and their morning commute.

Ichiro joined the Mariners in 2001 after playing over 1,200 games in Japan.

Ichiro has had a difficult spring, finding it hard to rebound after stepping aside last May to become a Mariners' front office assistant.

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The man many see as taking over the mantle for Ichiro in Seattle, compatriot Yusei Kikuchi who pitched his Major League Baseball debut on Thursday, was particularly moved. There will never be another player like him, and there's only a matter of time before he's enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, to be forever memorialized for his impact on the game. He set the record with 262 hits in a season and wound up with a.311 batting average.

Ichiro carried the burden of an entire country in coming to the United States, and his success created opportunity for the countless others who have followed.

The conclusion to Suzuki's career was speculated about since the games in Japan were announced last season. Whether he wants to accept the label or not, Suzuki was a trailblazer. Past year marked the arrival of two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani.

Ichiro spent 11 seasons with the Mariners before being dealt at the 2012 deadline to the New York Yankees.

The point here isn't to get angry at Ichiro for having thwarted Cleveland so consistently throughout his big-league career.

As word spread through the crowd of 46,451 at Tokyo Dome, the applause for Suzuki grew each time he went to the plate or took his position in the field.

The 45-year-old Ichiro fouled out his first time up and grounded out in his next at-bat against Oakland.

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