Ichiro Suzuki To Announce Retirement After Game In Japan

Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki waves to spectators while leaving the field at the Tokyo Dome on Thursday

Suzuki's final at bat could hardly have been more typical: a ground ball out that he very almost legged into an infield single with a full-bore sprint to first.

NOTE: The Mariners beat the A's 5-4 in 12 innings.

Iconic Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki, who has more hits in professional baseball than any other Japanese player, walked away from his career to thunderous applause on Thursday, hours after an informed source said he was set to announce his retirement. His combined total of 4,367 is a professional record. "I knew it was going to begin at the Tokyo Dome, where my journey as a major leaguer began".

"For me it doesn't get better than tonight", Ichiro said through a translator. In batting practice, fans in that same spot wore shirts saying "Ichiro is Life" and "I believe 3,090".

"You don't want to come here and lose two games, but we'll regoup and take a few days off", he said. He won the 2001 American League Rookie of the Year and American League Most Valuable Player awards. At a time of usually powerful and beefy sluggers, he was the opposite - wiry, skinny and perpetually in motion, always seeming to be two steps toward first base at the moment the ball left his bat.

On Wednesday, Suzuki started his 28th professional season and 19th in the majors, where he spent most of his career in Seattle and had stints with the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins.

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He is expected to continue to work with the Mariners, having started a new role as "special assistant to the chairman" previous year.

At one point Mariners second baseman Dee Gordon attempted to bow to Ichiro, but the future Hall of Famer waived him off and went in for a hug.

Ichiro's teammates met him outside the dugout for a proper send-off in a three-minute tribute.

The 45-year-old Ichiro fouled out his first time up and grounded out in his next at-bat against Oakland.

His personality and popularity transcended sport.

Ichiro Suzuki will go down as one of baseball's greatest players. I am honored to end my big league career where it started, with Seattle, and think it is fitting that my last games as a professional were played in my home country of Japan. There will never be another player like him, and there's only a matter of time before he's enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, to be forever memorialized for his impact on the game.

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