Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki announced he has decided to retire from his active playing career, effective immediately. He made the announcement following game #2 of the Major League Baseball Japan Opening Series in Tokyo.
“I have achieved so many of my dreams in baseball,” Ichiro said, “both in my career in Japan and, since 2001, in Major League Baseball. I am honored to end my big league career where it started, with Seattle, and think it is fitting that my last games as a professional were played in my home country of Japan.
“I want to thank not only the Mariners, but the Yankees and Marlins, for the opportunity to play in MLB, and I want to thank the fans in both the U.S. and Japan for all the support they have always given me.”
Ichiro, 45, retires as the active Major League hits leader, ranking 21st all-time in MLB history with 3,089 career hits. After amassing 1,278 hits during a 9-year career (1992-2000) with the Orix Blue Wave of Japan’s Pacific League, Ichiro has totaled 4,367 hits between MLB and Japan. On Aug. 7, 2016, he recorded his 3,000th career hit in the Major Leagues – a triple – becoming one of 31 players to reach that milestone. Ichiro is one of seven players to collect at least 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases in the Major Leagues, joining Lou Brock, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor and Honus Wagner. On June 15, 2016 he recorded the 4,257th hit of his career combined between Japan and MLB, unofficially breaking a tie with Pete Rose for most career professional hits.
He recorded the 4,000th career hit of his professional career on Aug. 21, 2013 vs. Toronto becoming the third player to reach 4,000 hits when considering the highest levels of baseball in the U.S. and Japan, joining Pete Rose and Ty Cobb. On April 25, 2015, vs. the Nationals, he scored the 1,968th run of his career between Japan (658) and MLB (1,310) passing Sadaharu Oh for most runs by a Japanese player. He owns 3 of the top 17 single-season hit totals in the Modern Era: 262 in 2004, 242 in 2001 and 238 in 2007. He has 8 seasons of at least 200 hits and 100 runs scored (2001-2008) joining Lou Gehrig as the only players in the modern era to accomplish this feat.
Ichiro began his Major League career with the Mariners, taking the American League by storm during his rookie campaign of 2001. After winning his first of two American League batting titles while also leading the league in hits and stolen bases in 2001, Ichiro was named the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year while also earning a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. He joined Boston’s Fred Lynn (1975) as the only players in either league to claim MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season. The 2001 season marked Ichiro’s first of 10 consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits – a Major League record – including a single-season Major League record 262 hits in 2004.
From 2001-2010, Ichiro won 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards and made 10 straight trips to the All-Star Game. His 10 Gold Gloves are most among active players. He is one of six outfielders in Major League history to earn at least 10 Gold Gloves, joining Roberto Clemente (12), Willie Mays (12), Ken Griffey Jr. (10), Andruw Jones (10) and Al Kaline (10). Ichiro’s 10 All-Star Games appearances are tied with Ken Griffey Jr. for the most by a Mariner and are tied with Albert Pujols for the 2nd-most among active players (Miguel Cabrera, 11). In the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco, Ichiro was named Most Valuable Player after going 3-for-3 with the first inside-the-park home run in ASG history.
Among the Mariners all-time leaders in club history, Ichiro ranks 1st in hits (2,542), batting (.322), at-bats (7,907), triples (79) and stolen bases (438) while ranking 2nd in games (1,861) and runs (1,181), 3rd in doubles (295) and total bases (3,292), 4th in extra-base hits (473) and 5th in RBI (633) and walks (517).
He spent six seasons with the Marlins (2015-17) and Yankees (2012-14). He made 109 pinch-hit plate appearances and had 100 pinch-hit at-bats in 2017, both Major League records. His 27 pinch-hits in 2017 were one shy of the single-season Major League record (28, John Vander Wal-COL, 1995).
During his career with Orix, Ichiro, a native of Kasugai, Aichi prefecture, Japan, led the Pacific League in batting average for a Japanese-record seven consecutive seasons. He was a 3-time league MVP and was named to the Pacific League’s “Best Nine” for seven consecutive years while also earning seven consecutive Gold Gloves. He led Japan to World Baseball Classic Titles in 2006 and 2009.