Baseball

Chronology of Ichiro's baseball career

by Jason Coskrey

Ichiro Suzuki’s baseball career was the stuff of legends. He excelled in NPB as chronicled below, then burst onto the scene in the major leagues and earned the respect of his peers and fans on the other side of the Pacific.

And without a doubt, he’s a future Baseball Hall of Famer, which will make him the first Japanese player to be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York. Above all, that’s a fitting tribute to the way he played the game and dedicated himself to his craft.

Suzuki won seven consecutive Golden Gloves (1994-2000) in Japan, won seven straight batting titles and was named to seven Best Nine teams in that span. He was the Matsutaro Shoriki Award winner in 1994 and 1995 while with Orix, and again in 2004 after breaking the MLB hits record.

He played for Japan during the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics, helping Samurai Japan claim both titles. In the 2009 WBC final, Ichiro lifted Japan over South Korea with a tiebreaking two-run single with two outs in the top of the 10th.

“I think he was carrying all the pressure of the world at that time,” New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka told MLB.com. “When we look back, I think he was going through a little bit of a struggle throughout the tournament. In that last game, he came through with the big hit that basically allowed us to win that game.”

1992 Enters NPB with Pacific League’s Orix Blue Wave.

1994 Sets NPB single-season hit record at 210.

2001 Wins American League’s Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards with Seattle Mariners.

2004 Sets MLB single-season hit record at 262.

2010 Gets 200 hits per season for 10th consecutive year in MLB.

June 2016 Eclipses Pete Rose’s record of 4,256 career hits, including those amassed in NPB.

May 2018 Assumes post of special assistant to Mariners’ chairman.

March 21, 2019 Retires from professional baseball.

Ichiro Suzuki bats for the Orix BlueWave in 1994.
Ichiro Suzuki bats for the Orix BlueWave in 1994. | KYODO
In September 1994, Ichiro became the first NPB player to get 200 hits in a single season.
In September 1994, Ichiro became the first NPB player to get 200 hits in a single season. | KYODO
Akira Ogi (left) made Ichiro a regular in 1994 after taking over as the Orix BlueWave manager that year.
Akira Ogi (left) made Ichiro a regular in 1994 after taking over as the Orix BlueWave manager that year. | KYODO
Ichiro helped Japan win the inaugural WBC title in 2006 and again in 2009.
Ichiro helped Japan win the inaugural WBC title in 2006 and again in 2009. | KYODO
Ichiro, a 10-time Gold Glove winner, dazzled fans with great glove work.
Ichiro, a 10-time Gold Glove winner, dazzled fans with great glove work. | KYODO
The Mariners traded Ichiro to the Yankees in July 2012.
The Mariners traded Ichiro to the Yankees in July 2012. | KYODO
Former Yankees Ichiro (left) and Hideki Matsui share a laugh in 2014.
Former Yankees Ichiro (left) and Hideki Matsui share a laugh in 2014. | KYODO
Exceptional speed was one of Ichiro
Exceptional speed was one of Ichiro’s greatest weapons, enabling him to turn a lot of ground balls into infield singles. | KYODO
On August 7, 2016, when he was playing for the Marlins, Ichiro achieved the 3,000th career hit in the majors.
On August 7, 2016, when he was playing for the Marlins, Ichiro achieved the 3,000th career hit in the majors. | KYODO
Amy Franz holds up her Ichimeter sign after the legend
Amy Franz holds up her Ichimeter sign after the legend’s final career hit in 2018. | KYODO

Information from Kyodo added