Ichiro Suzuki was born October 22, 1973, in Kasugai, Japan. Ichiro’s father had played baseball in high school, and wanted him to play baseball. Ichiro was given his first baseball and glove after his third birthday. At the age of six, Ichiro played under an assumed name on the Little League team coached by his father, who taught him discipline and humility. In elementary school, his father practiced with him up to four hours a day. Ichiro was an outstanding student who was chosen to play in Japan’s National High School Baseball Tournament, known as Koshien. In high school he was a pitcher, though he excelled as a hitter as well. To get stronger, Ichiro would throw car tires and attempt to hit wiffle balls with heavy shovels. Despite his success, Japanese scouts were discouraged by his small size (he was 5’ 9” and weighed 125 pounds). Nevertheless, he was drafted by the Orix Blue Wave, in Japan’s Pacific League, as an outfielder. Ichiro quickly became one of the best players in Japan as well as the nation’s top celebrity.
In the spring of 1999, Ichiro spent two weeks in spring training with the Seattle Mariners. In 2000, the Mariners paid Orix more than $13 million for Ichiro. He came to the United States in 2001 to play for the Mariners becoming the first and only U.S. player to have only his first name on his baseball jersey (similar to how players wear their jerseys in Japan). Ichiro quickly made an impact on the Mariners. In 2001, Ichiro became only the second player chosen as both the AL Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player in the same season. Fred Lynn of the Boston Red Sox was the other in 1975. In 2004, Ichiro broke the major league record for hits in a season with 260, which eclipsed George Sisler’s 1920 record for most hits in a season (257). In 2011, Ichiro became the first player in Major League history to achieve ten consecutive 200-hit seasons. In his career with the Mariners, Ichiro was a ten-time all-star and golden glove recipient. In addition, he became the only player in Major League Baseball history to record an inside-the-park home run in an All-star game.
In 2012, Ichiro was traded to the New York Yankees.