With his playing career now finished, though he probably believes he could play if needed, it is time for Ichiro to start receiving the honors for his magical baseball career.
On Tuesday morning, the Seattle Mariners announced that the iconic outfielder and hitting machine will be inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame this summer.
The ceremony will take place at T-Mobile Park before the Mariners game against the Cleveland Guardians, Saturday, Aug. 27.
It will be the highlight of the Mariners’ planned weekend-long celebration of Ichiro’s long and storied baseball career.
“Mariners fans were fortunate to have watched Ichiro Suzuki perform his magic at the plate and in the field for over a decade in a Mariners uniform,” said John Stanton, Mariners chairman and managing partner in the news release. “As the first position player to transition from Japan to Major League Baseball, Ichiro opened minds and won hearts of American fans with his brilliant play and dedication to his craft. His selection to the Mariners Hall of Fame was unanimous, and I fully expect Ichiro to take his place in Cooperstown on the first ballot in 2025.”
It was the first of what should be two unanimous selections for Ichiro. Following the 2024 season, he will be eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. And given his impeccable baseball résumé both in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball, it’s difficult to see any voter not penciling him in on the first ballot.
After coming over to the United States following a storied career in Japan dating back to his day as a high school phenom, Ichiro became 10-time All-Star and was named American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in 2001 while helping lead the Mariners to an MLB-record 116 wins. His major league career spanned 19 seasons with the Mariners, New York Yankees and Miami Marlins, during which time he collected 3,089 hits. He also played nine seasons with the Orix Blue Wave of Japan’s Pacific League, where he had 1,278 hits.
Ichiro’s list of accomplishments over his nearly two-decade career is long:
- 10 consecutive Gold Gloves;
- 10 consecutive All-Star Game appearances including MVP of the 2007 game in San Francisco, where he went 3-for-3 with the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star Game history;
- 2001-2010, he recorded at least 200 hits each season, a major league record;
- In 2004, he had a major league single-season record 262 hits, surpassing the record of 257, set in 1920 by George Sisler;
- Three Silver Slugger Awards (2001, 2007, 2009) and two American League batting titles (2001, 2004);
- American League stolen base leader (2001);
- Recorded his 3,000th major league hit on August 7, 2016 (a triple), becoming one of 31 players to reach that milestone.
He also remains among the Mariners all-time leaders in multiple categories:
- 1st in hits (2,542), batting (.322), at-bats (7,907), triples (79), and stolen bases (438);
- 2nd in games (1,861) and runs (1,181);
- 3rd in doubles (295) and total bases (3,292).
Ichiro, who has the title of special assistant to the chairman, is currently serving as an instructor with the Mariners and Class AAA Tacoma, focusing on outfield play, baserunning and working in conjunction with hitting coaches.
Ichiro joins current members of the Mariners Hall of Fame (in order of induction): Alvin Davis, Dave Niehaus, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson, Dan Wilson, Ken Griffey Jr., Lou Piniella and Jamie Moyer.
From the release: “The Mariners Hall of Fame was created to honor the players, staff and other individuals that greatly contributed to the history of the Mariners franchise. To be eligible for selection, a player must have been active in a Mariners uniform for at least five seasons and be retired as a player at least two years. In addition to a player’s impact on the field, other considerations for possible induction include his positive impact on the Northwest community outside of baseball and a player’s positive impact in enhancing the image of the Seattle Mariners and/or Major League Baseball.”