Legendary baseball player Ichiro Suzuki is now the 10th member of the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame, reports Fox 13.
He joins former teammates Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Jamie Moyer, Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson.
Suzuki gave a 16-minute speech all in English, one of the few times he has done so substantially in public.
“Even though I retired as an active player, baseball and Seattle have never left my heart,” Suzuki said during his induction speech Saturday, reported MLB. “Baseball will forever be my soul, and my mission is to keep helping both players and fans appreciate this special game.”
Sitting next to him during the ceremony was Griffey Jr., his teammate during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
“There is a guy I like to call George. You know him as Ken Griffey Jr. He was my idol even before I came to America, but in 2009 he returned to Seattle and I finally got to be his teammate,” Suzuki said during his induction speech. “Yes, he’s a jokester. But for me, he’s also a true professional. He helped me in more ways than I can express. Being his teammate is truly one of my career highlights.”
Also present at the ceremony was Baseball Hall of Fame president Josh Rawitch. Suzuki received video messages from Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Albert Pujols and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Suzuki spent his first 11 seasons with the Mariners. He was traded to the New York Yankees in the middle of the 2012 season, spending three seasons in New York and later three with the Miami Marlins.
He ended his career with the Mariners and retired after the second game of the 2019 season. The Mariners had traveled to Japan for the first two games of the 2019 season.
In his career, Suzuki, a 10-time MLB All-Star, has won 10 Gold Gloves, two batting titles and in 2001 was the AL MVP and rookie of the year. He is also the Mariner’s franchise leader in hits (2,542), batting average (.321), at-bats (7,907), triples (79) and stolen bases (438).
Suzuki also played in Japan for nine seasons prior to his debut in the MLB.
Since his retirement, Suzuki has been the special assistant for the Mariners and he often works with players during batting practice.
“I was 27 years old when I came to Seattle. I could never imagine my career in America would last 19 seasons and that I would still be in Seattle today,” Suzuki said during his induction speech. “With that in mind, I would like to say to the current players your future has possibilities that you cannot imagine as well. So embrace it by giving your best without imposing limits on yourself.”
“If a skinny, undersized guy from Japan can compete in this uniform, and then stand before you tonight to accept this honor. Then there’s no reason you cannot do it either,” Suzuki continued.
He will be eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2025.
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