A little more than a month after celebrating his 50th birthday, Ichiro Suzuki showed he still has the goods at the plate during a coaching session with Japanese ballplayers at Asahikawa Higashi High School in Hokkaido when he bashed a home run that cleared the netting around the school building and broke the window of a math classroom while a lesson was taking place.
Weeks later, Suzuki, who primarily played right field during his nearly 20 years in Major League Baseball, also showed his right arm can still bring the heat when he took the mound at the Tokyo Dome with a team of retired Japanese ballplayers in an exhibition game to promote women’s baseball in Japan. Suzuki and this team’s opponents? A team of high-school girls.
As serious as a heart attack as a pitcher, Suzuki allowed five hits and zero runs while collecting nine strikeouts on 116 pitches in a nine-inning shutout, according to The Wall Street Journal. Suzuki, who is the all-time leader in hits with 4,367 in his professional career spread across Japan and the United States, also recorded two hits at the dish against his teenage competition. “More than anything, I’m glad I got a hit,” Suzuki told reporters afterward.
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Eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2025, Ichiro retired in 2019 after the Mariners began their season against the Athletics in Tokyo. “Seven years ago, it appeared he had played for the last time in Japan,” Fumihiro Fujisawa, head of the Japanese Association of Baseball Research, told The Associated Press at the time. “I don’t think anybody believed he would be active now.”
Well, it’s four years later and Suzuki, who still works as a special adviser with the Mariners and is constantly on the field during warm-ups and batting practice, is still active and can still bring it.
He predicted as much when he signed a minor-league deal with the Mariners in ’19 that allowed him to play in Tokyo and finish his MLB career with ballcllub he started with in 2001. “I want to be able to help the Seattle Mariners,” Suzuki said after re-signing with Seattle. “I want to give it everything I’ve gained, everything I’ve done in my career, I want to give it all right here in Seattle. I think everybody has heard I want to play ’til I’m 50. But I always say I want to play at least until I’m 50. Make sure everybody understands that.”
Looks like he got his wish.