Suzuki, Ichiro

▪ 2001

      By 2000 Ichiro Suzuki had established himself as the best baseball player in Japan and had begun his quest for stardom in the U.S. A speedy left-handed-hitting right fielder for the Orix BlueWave of Japan's Pacific League (PL), Suzuki spent two weeks in the Seattle Mariners' 1999 spring-training camp in Peoria, Ariz., as part of a U.S.-Japan player exchange. A Japanese player in an American lineup was no longer quite the rarity it once had been; several Japanese pitchers, most notably Hideo Nomo and Hideki Irabu, had crossed the Pacific to play in the major leagues. Suzuki became the first nonpitcher to make the transition when he signed a three-year contract with the Mariners in November 2000. Because pitchers in the U.S. threw harder than their Japanese counterparts, some observers believed that Japanese hitters would struggle at the plate. Suzuki, however, had been rewriting the record books in Japan since 1994. No Japanese hitter stood a better chance in the U.S. than he.

      Suzuki was born on Oct. 22, 1973, in Aichi, Japan, and took to baseball at an early age. Upon finishing high school, he was drafted by the BlueWave. He saw limited action during his first two seasons because his manager disliked the young player's unorthodox batting style—a sort of pendulum motion created by kicking the front foot back and then striding forward with the swing. In 1994 a new manager gave Suzuki a starting spot on the team and let him swing the way he liked. He responded in amazing fashion, lifting his batting average to .400 during the season and finishing at .385—the second best batting mark in the history of Japanese baseball. He collected 210 hits, a record for one season. Through 2000 he had won seven consecutive PL batting titles, posted a career average of .353, and led his team to two PL pennants. At 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) and 70 kg (155 lb), he was not a power hitter, but his speed and bat control were unmatched. He was also considered among the top outfielders, with the strongest, most accurate throwing arm in the league.

      Suzuki represented a new type of Japanese ballplayer. In addition to his unusual swing, he bucked the conservative baseball establishment in other ways. Unlike other players, he wore his first name, rather than his last, on the back of his uniform. He commanded the highest annual salary in history ($4.2 million) and parlayed his unrivaled popularity into lucrative product endorsements. Whether he could carry his success to American ball fields was a question that remained unanswered by the time he left Arizona. Dehydration had limited his playing time, and he had one hit in six at-bats. Critics felt his motion-intensive batting style would fail against faster pitching, but Suzuki left the U.S. expressing hopes of a return. His contract with the BlueWave was to end after the 2001 season, when he would surely be seeking new challenges.

Anthony G. Craine

* * *

▪ Japanese athlete
born October 22, 1973, Kasugai, Japan
 
 professional baseball player, the first nonpitcher to shift from Japanese professional baseball to the American major leagues.

      Suzuki played baseball from an early age. Upon finishing high school, he was drafted by the Orix Blue Wave of the Japanese Pacific League (see also Japanese baseball leagues). He saw limited action during his first two seasons because his manager disliked the young player's unorthodox batting style—a sort of pendulum motion created by kicking the front foot back and then striding forward with the swing. In 1994 a new manager gave Suzuki a starting spot on the team and let him swing the way he liked. He responded in amazing fashion, lifting his batting average to .400 during the season and finishing at .385—the second best batting mark in the history of Japanese baseball. He collected 210 hits, a record for one season. Through 2000 he won seven consecutive Pacific League batting titles, posted a career average of .353, and led his team to two pennants. He was not a power hitter, but his speed and bat control were unmatched. He was also considered among the top outfielders, with the strongest, most accurate throwing arm in the league. Suzuki threw right-handed but batted left-handed.

      By 2000 Suzuki had established himself as the best baseball player in Japan and had begun his quest for stardom in the United States. He spent two weeks in the Seattle Mariners' 1999 spring training camp as part of a U.S.-Japan player exchange. A Japanese player in an American lineup was no longer quite the rarity it once had been; several Japanese pitchers, most notably Hideo Nomo (Nomo Hideo) and Hideki Irabu, had crossed the Pacific to play in the major leagues. Suzuki became the first nonpitcher to make the transition when he signed a three-year contract with the Mariners in November 2000. Because pitchers in the United States threw harder than their Japanese counterparts, some observers believed that Japanese hitters would struggle at the plate.

      Suzuki made his major league debut with the Mariners on April 2, 2001. He answered his critics with a stellar season, capturing the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year award and a Gold Glove. His batting average in the 2001 regular season was .350, and it was .421 in the postseason games. In 2004 Suzuki broke George Sisler (Sisler, George)'s 84-year-old record for most hits in a single season, ending the year with 262 hits and a .372 batting average. He collected more than 200 hits—and was named to the AL All-Star team—in each of his first seven seasons with the Mariners.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Suzuki Ichiro — Ichiro Ichiro im Trikot der Seattle Mariners Seattle Mariners Nr. 51 Center Field Geboren am …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ichiro Suzuki — Ichiro Ichiro im Trikot der Seattle Mariners Seattle Mariners Nr. 51 Center Field Geboren am: 22. Oktober …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ichirō Suzuki (Baseballspieler) — Ichirō Ichirō Seattle Mariners Nr. 51 Right Fielder …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ichirō Suzuki (Gitarrist) — Ichirō Suzuki (jap. 鈴木 一朗, Suzuki Ichirō; * 9. Mai 1948 in Kōbe, Präfektur Hyōgo) ist ein japanischer Gitarrist. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Diskographie 3 Literatur …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ichiro — Ichirō Ichirō (いちろう, Ichirō?) est un prénom japonais masculin, signifiant à l origine « l ainé », tout comme le prénom Tarō. Dans la famille japonaise traditionnelle, il est suivi par Jirō, le « cadet », puis par Saburō, le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ichirō — (いちろう, Ichirō?) est un prénom japonais masculin, signifiant à l origine « l ainé », tout comme le prénom Tarō. Dans la famille japonaise traditionnelle, il est suivi par Jirō, le « cadet », puis par Sabur …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ichiro Suzuki — Infobox MLB player name=Ichiro width=200 caption=Ichiro in his pre swing pose position=Center fielder team=Seattle Mariners number=51 bats=Left throws=Right birthdate=birth date and age|1973|10|22 birthplace=Kasugai, Japan debutdate=April 2… …   Wikipedia

  • Ichiro Suzuki — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Suzuki (homonymie). Ichiro Suzuki …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ichirō Suzuki — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Suzuki (homonymie). Ichirō Suzuki …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ichirō — (いちろう, Ichirō?) es un nombre de pila masculino japonés que tradicionalmente se asigna al hijo primogénito. Generalmente se escribe con los kanji 一郎, que significan precisamente primer hijo . En la familia japonesa tradicional, a menudo va seguido …   Wikipedia Español

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.