Baseball legend Ichiro announces retirement

Ichiro walks off into history before packed Tokyo Dome crowd

If there were any justice in the world, Ichiro Suzuki would have beaten out the slow roller to shortstop in the eighth inning of Thursday's game against the Oakland A's in Tokyo, as he did so many times.

Ichiro Suzuki was a one-of-a-kind ballplayer.

Maybe the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A's thought that if they kept playing, Ichiro Suzuki couldn't leave baseball. Ichiro is one of just three players in professional baseball history (Ty Cobb, Pete Rose being the others) to record over 4,000 hits throughout his career with 1,278 in the Nippon League to go along with his MLB numbers for a total of 4,367 hits.

"I threw a lot of ball in the first inning and got in some 3-2 counts", he added. "It's frustrating to lose games, we'll regroup and get back into spring training mode and get back in the season", A's manager Bob Melvin said. Santana again was the hero, chasing down Profar's fly ball to left field and crashing against the wall in a successful effort to record the final out.

Suzuki became the second-oldest position player to start an opener, only a few months younger than Julio Franco was for Atlanta in 2004.

Kikuchi later took a full minute to compose himself before responding about Ichiro's impact. "The support of the Japanese fans here gave me a tailwind". But when he met Ichiro in 2009, it was the Mariners legend who provided the classic moment.

Oakland players stood solemnly and watched camera flashes and iPhones catch the historic scene. "We're trying to do the best thing for the team and Ichiro understands". Fans clamored for a chance to see the real Ichiro, but often times were left wanting more as Ichiro remained very private and even guarded during his career. At the ripe old age of 42 and still going strong as a member of the Marlins, Ichiro collected his 3,000th career Major League Baseball hit after whacking a triple to right field against the Colorado Rockies.

Over the course of his illustrious hall-of-fame career, Ichiro accumulated 4,367 hits in his professional career across Japan and the United States. During the Spring Training, Suzuki has only managed two hits on 31 trips at-bat. "I don't think anybody believed he would be active now", Fumihiro Fujisawa, the head of the Japanese Association of Baseball Research, told The Associated Press. Not tonight. Not on this night. They were incredibly passionate tonight. I knew my career as a major leaguer was going to begin from then at Tokyo Dome.

Ichiro's retirement had been anticipated for a while. Ichiro won the American League MVP and Rookie of the Year awards. After his 2001 debut, it seemed like it would be only a matter of time until he became the new single-season hit king.

Kikuchi, who went to the same high school as Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, made his second pro start at the Tokyo Dome.

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