Baseball / MLB

Show of respect: ANA changes gate number to 51 for Ichiro's departure to Seattle

Kyodo

A day after announcing his retirement, Ichiro Suzuki flew back to Seattle on Friday from Narita airport aboard a gate that honored the No. 51 he wore throughout most of his pro career.

Wearing a black knit cap, a white T-shirt and jeans, Ichiro and his wife, Yumiko, arrived at the airport to cheers from well-wishers. In a change from normal operating procedure, All Nippon Airways changed its gate number from 58B to Ichiro’s 51.

“It’s a show of respect for all he’s done to this point,” an airline spokesperson said. “We could make the change because it posed no operating issues.”

A company employee from Chiba Prefecture who spotted Japan’s most recognizable baseball star, said, “I’m glad I was able to see him. He gave us all big dreams. I watched him, thinking, ‘Thank you very much.'”