To this day when I hold a bat, even a plastic one in wiffleball, I hold it high in my left hand and tug on my sleeve as I await the next pitch. It’s an homage to one of my earliest baseball heroes, Ichiro Suzuki.
If the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a baseball, Ichiro is one of the most successful athletes in history. Today, he became the latest member of the iconic 3,000 hit club.
There is more than enough evidence to call him the greatest hitter of all time. If you include 1,278 hits he racked up in nine seasons in Japan, he has more hits than anyone in the history of the game. His 262 hits in the 2004 season, when he was already 30-years-old, are a single-season record. He is, as Patrick Redford says here, the real Hit King.
He has spent 16 seasons in the MLB and been the epitome of consistency. Last season, 2015, was the only one in which he failed to record 100 hits.
I’ve always loved watching Ichiro. There was a magnetic quality to the way he played the game. He had that strange batting style, moving his feet as he swung, always trying to get out of the box a little bit faster. He patrolled right field with an elegance and yet was still capable of doing things like this:
He will undoubtedly enter the Hall of Fame the first time he appears on a ballot and will become the first Asian enshrined in Cooperstown. No player deserves it more.