Ichiro celebration weekend
Ichiro acknowledging the fans at his final game as a player early this season
September 14, 2019
As this is being written, the Mariners are in the midst of Ichiro Weekend, three days of celebrating the career and achievements of one Ichiro Suzuki. One because, well, there are many people in the world named Ichiro Suzuki—"Ichiro" translates to "first son," of which there are lots, and Suzuki is the second-most common surname in Japan—there is and will be only one Ichiro, and he played the bulk of his Hall of Fame MLB career as a Seattle Mariner.
Before Saturday evening's game against the Chicago White Sox, the Mariners gave Ichiro the "Franchise Achievement Award," which, yes, sounds made-up, but had actually already been a thing. The club created the award in 2016 to recognize "significant contributions to the Seattle Mariners" and has previously been given to former club chairmen John Ellis and Howard Lincoln, Ellis for his role in forming the current ownership group that kept the team from leaving Seattle in the 1990s and Lincoln for, well, being involved for 24 years and running the club for way too long. Ichiro is now the only recipient who (a) was a player and (b) is universally well-regarded.
Ichiro was in attendance Saturday, and gave a moving pre-game speech, in uniform and in English, to the crowd of 26,000+ at the ballpark and many more on television. "This is a happy occasion," the Mariners icon began after teasing Dee Gordon and Yusei Kikuchi that there would be no crying this time (both players were visibly emotional when Ichiro retired early this season). "When I retired that night in Tokyo, I had an incomplete feeling because the great fans of Seattle could not be there. Tonight I want to express my appreciation to you for your touching support over the years."
The full speech is embedded below. Enjoy.