Hall of Famer Ichiro’s “Great Footsteps” Photos Collection
Ichiro, 48, began his speech to a crowd of 45,000 people at a ceremony held on August 28 (Japan time) at T-Mobile Park, the Mariners’ home base in Seattle, to induct him into the team’s Hall of Fame. He is the 10th Mariners player to be honored. The legend, who has hit 4,367 hits in Japan and the U.S., looked back in English on November 2000, the month he decided to join the major leagues.
When I joined the Mariners 22 years ago, my life changed forever. That includes the fact that I am still here in Seattle.”
Ichiro’s comment brought laughter to the ballpark at one point.
When I first joined the Mariners and won my first game, he (then manager Lou Pinella) kissed me on the cheek. I was shocked. …… To be honest, I was scared. If this was the norm in the U.S., I felt a strong fear that I might not make it here.
His wife Yumiko, 56, also attended the ceremony. Ichiro expressed his gratitude to his loving wife, saying, “Without her, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to receive this honor today.
Even after retiring in 19 years, Ichiro continues to be loved by his fans. We would like to look back on his great footsteps through the treasured photos from “FRIDAY,” which had been covering Ichiro since 1994, his breakthrough year with the Orix.
Yunkel Yellow Emperor Liquid” before games
Ichiro’s name became known throughout Japan during the 1994 season. In his third year with the team, Ichiro became a first-team All-Star and suddenly became the leading hitter with 210 hits and a .385 batting average, winning the titles of most hits and highest on-base percentage.
Ichiro was stubborn and biased in his tastes from that time. Some coaches tried to get him to change his unique pendulum batting style, but he adamantly refused. It was fortunate that Akira Ohgi, who was the manager at the time, had an understanding of the irregular form. Ichiro focused on his own senses rather than the advice of those around him, and he fine-tuned his form every year in his own way.
As for his diet, he disliked vegetables to the extreme and would always show up at a restaurant specializing in beef tongue in Kobe before the season opener. His favorite drink was “Yunkel Yellow Emperor Liquid” by Sato Pharmaceutical, in which he himself appeared in commercials. When he was with the Orix, he often drank it before games. Ichiro is a big fan of video games. I heard that he was absorbed in playing Dragon Quest in his dorm room,” said a reporter for a sports newspaper at the time.
Ichiro is also a family man. In September 1999, the year before he joined the Mariners, he gave his father, Nobuyuki Suzuki, real estate in his hometown of Aichi Prefecture. It was a huge mansion with a land area of approximately 826 m2. He and his wife, Yumiko, also enjoyed an elegant life in Seattle. They purchased a mansion in the suburbs, about 40 minutes by car from the center of the city, and lived there for an estimated 200 million yen.
Surrounded by lakes and forests, it was a quiet place with a basketball court on the grounds. There is an Italian marble bathroom and a master bedroom with a view deck…The wooden wine cellar on the first floor was specially ordered by Ichiro, who only drinks red wine when he drinks alcohol.
The kitchen, where Yumiko cooked, was made of granite. This mansion will be sold in March 2009. He also has mansions in Los Angeles, Arizona, and New York.
Ichiro is still with the Mariners as a special assistant to the team’s chairman and an instructor. He has recorded the most hits in a year in Japan and the U.S. 12 times, and has won the top spot in the batting order nine times. …… Ichiro said of the team’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, “It is the greatest honor to have played for you as a member of the Seattle Mariners. I will continue to do my best for the fans and the Mariners.
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Images： Yutaka Asai, Ryu Kanzaki, Sota Shima, Junsei Todoroki, Toshihiro Nakaikawa, Keisuke Nishi, Ippei Hara, Tina Paul/Camera Press/Afro, Nikkan Sports/Afro