Watch: Top 10 plays of Mariners legend Ichiro Suzuki’s career
Ichiro Suzuki’s on-field playing career with the Seattle Mariners is over – at least for this season.
With the all-time pro baseball hit king possibly done in a Mariners uniform and as a major league baseball player, let’s take a look back at his 10 greatest moments. This covers his entire MLB career, not just his time with the Mariners – and in one case, it’s even a play against them.
Top 10 greatest Ichiro plays
This is when America really took notice of Ichiro’s talent. In his rookie season of 2001, he threw a frozen rope to nail Oakland’s Terrence Long trying to go from first to third on a base hit. It prompted a memorable call by Mariners Hall of Fame announcer Dave Niehaus and was just one of several great moments in a season in which Ichiro was an All-Star and took home both the American League Rookie of the Year and MVP awards.
George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns had 257 hits for the St. Louis Browns in 1920, setting a major league record. It lasted an incredible 84 years – until Ichiro came along. After his 2001 debut, it seemed like it would be only a matter of time until he became the new single-season hit king. In 2004, he did just that, passing Sisler on Oct. 1. Ichiro finished the year with 262 hits, a record that nobody has come close to touching since.
3. The Spiderman catch.
This might actually be the greatest catch of all-time. Seriously, who does that?
Ichiro didn’t start playing in America until he was 27. At the age of 42, he tripled off the wall in right field at Colorado’s Coors Field for his 3,000th hit. He needed just 15 years to meet a milestone that is pretty much automatic admission to Cooperstown. Not bad for the first position player to ever make the move from Japan to the majors.
Not only does Ichiro have 3,089 MLB hits, he also owns 1,278 from his nine seasons prior in Japan. Put them together and it makes him the all-time pro baseball hit king, a title he passed Pete Rose for in 2016.
6. Walk-off HR off of Mariano.
Mariano Rivera is widely considered the greatest closer of all-time. Walk-off homers were a rarity off the Yankees legend. But when he met Ichiro in 2009, it was the Mariners legend who provided the classic moment.
Not only was Ichiro an incredible hitter, he had elite speed on his side, as well. So when fellow Mariner great Ken Griffey Jr. had to chase down Ichiro’s hit off the wall in right field during the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco, there was pretty much no chance of keeping him from scoring on the play. That unconventional homer helped him become the second Mariners player to win the All-Star Game MVP award, following in the footsteps of Griffey.
Speaking of Ichiro’s speed and All-Star Games, his first trip to the midsummer classic had another memorable moment created by his feet. Facing Randy Johnson, another famous former No. 51 for the Mariners, in front of a home crowd at Safeco Field, Ichiro beat Johnson to first base on an infield single to lead off the bottom of the first inning. He followed up with a steal of second base in what was his first exposure on a big national stage in America.
When the Miami Marlins made a rare trip to Seattle for a series in 2017, many wondered if it would be the last time Ichiro played at Safeco Field. While that ended up not being the case, he gave Mariners fans quite the thrill in his last at-bat of the series, drilling a home run to send the crowd into a frenzy.
Ichiro’s 2018 run with the Mariners may not have lasted long, but it at least produced one special play that made everybody remember why he means so much in Seattle. In just the second game of the season, he went over the wall in left field to rob Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez of a home run. Simply put, it was vintage Ichiro.
Honorable mention: Ichiro Suzuki, Pitcher.
Yep. That happened.