Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Ichiro: Japan’s greatest sporting export
Japan’s Ichiro Suzuki underlined his position as his country’s greatest sporting export after shattering one of Major League Baseball’s oldest records.
The Seattle Mariners outfielder was described as a “Hercules” by fellow players after becoming the first man to record 200 hits for nine straight seasons.
The 35-year-old reached the milestone with a single in the second game of a double-header against the Texas Rangers on Sunday to beat the previous mark of eight consecutive seasons set by Willie Keeler in 1901.
Ichiro himself, who left Japan for the major leagues in 2001, spoke of a “sense of liberation” after his latest MLB record, set to be marked with a commemorative stamp in his home country.
In 2005, he broke an 84-year-old record for hits in a single season in 2004, finishing with 262, five more than Hall of Famer George Sisler had in 1920.
His latest achievement, which came after helping Japan win the World Baseball Classic in the off-season, came despite having missed 16 games of the 2009 campaign with a stomach ulcer and a calf injury. It should also fast-track him to a place in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Fast running out of records to break, he also recently became the second-fastest Major Leaguer to reach 2,000 hits, doing it in 1,402 games.
Ichiro, who goes by his given name in Japan and the United States, where first-name fame is usually reserved for the likes of Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, has made a compelling case for the title of Japan’s greatest ever sportsman.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Mike Stone