"Any pitch, any time, any place, any situation - you throw it, Ichiro will hit it." ~ Leigh Montville (Sports Illustrated)
For millions of his fans, he is simply Ichiro (meaning first son). Ichiro was born in Kasugai (Japan) on October 22, 1973. He is the second child of Nobuyuki Ichiro and Yoshie. The senior Ichiro, a high school baseball player, was aware of his son's natural talent for the game. From the age of three, Ichiro started practicing baseball in his backyard. On his third birthday, he received his first ball and glove, which he still treasures.
At the age of six, Ichiro joined the Little League, though he was two years junior than the allowed age. However, nobody questioned his age, as he was the most talented player in the league. It was hard work and his father's motivation, that made him one of the best hitters in the game. Nobuyuki trained his son rigorously for four hours daily, and taught him the technique of pitching. Though he is right-handed, his father let him switch to left-hand hitting.
When he was in the seventh grade, Ichiro became the best junior baseball player,. From that time onwards, he knew how to manipulate (the) speed of the ball, and change hitting styles as per the situation. In his school, there was a tradition that required (that) the juniors wash their seniors' clothes, which he did at 3 am in the morning, so that he could get more time to practice baseball during the day.
In his senior school years, Ichiro became the best pitcher and hitter of his team. His team Aikodai Meiden won national recognition, and Ichiro became an icon at Japan's National High School Baseball tournament (Koshien). In 1991, while graduating from school, he got an offer to play for Pacific League's BlueWave. He played for the BlueWave for seven consecutive years, and during this time(,) he set a national record for being the first baseman to play 57 consecutive games.
Ichiro Suzuki: Nation's Pride
For nine years, Ichiro Suzuki ruled the world of baseball in his native country. In the 1990s, he won the title of the most popular face of Japan. He is often regarded as a rockstar, rather than an athlete. His dressing style and response in interviews attract a lot of young fans. Due to his notable performances, he was named as the Pacific league Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times.
At the age of twenty-four, when his celebrity status reached its peak, his father dedicated a museum in Nagoya (Japan) to his son. In November 2000, Ichiro signed a three-year deal with the Seattle Mariners(,) and became the first Japanese baseball player to play in MLB. Though he plays in the US, he is still very attached to his native place, and insists on wearing a baseball shirt with his first name on it, as he did when playing in Japan.
Ichiro's hard work (hard work) and dedication has paid off, and today(,) the world knows him by the nickname 'hitting machine'. Till date, he has won many titles and honors(,) including:
- Best Nine (Japan) - Seven times (1994-2000)
- Gold Glove (Japan) - Seven times (1994-2000)
- MLA (Matsutaro Shoriki Award, Japan) - Two times (1994-1995)
- AL (American League) Rookie of the Year Award (2001)
- Topps All-Star Rookie Team (2001)
- AL All-Star - Eight times (2001-2008)
These are some of his notable achievements. He has also won several other awards, which includes the AL Singles Leader, AL Batting Average Leader, AL Stolen Bases Leader, and the AL At-Bats Leader.