Ichiro expresses his gratitude as he enters the Mariners Hall of Fame
SEATTLE (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki was inducted into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame on Saturday night, delivering his entire 16-minute speech in English while reflecting on his career.
Suzuki became Seattle’s 10th Hall of Famer, joining former teammates Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Jamie Moyer, Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson who had previously been honored by the club. All but Buhner were present.
Suzuki’s speech was one of the few times he spoke extensively in English in a public forum. The ceremony also included video messages from several baseball stars, including Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Albert Pujols and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Baseball Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch was also in attendance. Suzuki will be eligible for induction at Cooperstown in 2025.
Griffey and Suzuki sat next to each other during the ceremony. The pair were teammates in Seattle during the 2009-10 seasons.
« There’s a guy I like to call George. You know him as Ken Griffey Jr. He was my idol before I even came to America, but in 2009 he moved back to Seattle and I finally could have been his teammate, » Suzuki said. « Yeah, he’s a prankster. But to me, he’s also a real professional. He’s helped me in way more ways than I can put into words. his teammate is really one of the highlights of my career.
Suzuki spent the first 11 seasons of his major league career with the Mariners before being traded to the New York Yankees midway through the 2012 season. Suzuki played three seasons with the Yankees, another three in Miami before returning in Seattle to end his career.
His last appearance came at the start of the 2019 season which Seattle opened with two games in Japan. Suzuki announced his retirement after the second game. He has spent the past few years as the Mariners President’s Special Assistant and regularly wears the uniform and works with players or balls in the field during batting practice.
“I was 27 when I came to Seattle. I never could have imagined that my career in America would last 19 seasons and that I would still be in Seattle today,” Suzuki said. “With that in mind, I would like to tell current players that your future has possibilities that you can’t imagine either. So embrace it by giving the best of yourself without imposing limits on yourself.
« If a skinny, undersized guy from Japan can compete in that uniform and then stand before you tonight to accept that honor. Then there’s no reason you can’t either.
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Tim Booth, The Associated Press