Earlier this winter, the future Hall-of-Famer, Adrian Beltre, announced his retirement from Major League Baseball, which hit me pretty hard. That guy is a legend on and off the field and was easily one of the greatest players of his generation. Fortunately, he’s not the only superstar, old-timer we have left.
The world’s all-time hit-leader Ichiro Suzuki, now 45 years old, signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners back in January and is currently in their big league Spring Training camp trying to make the team. There’s no guarantee he’ll spend the entire season with the Mariners, BUT their GM, Jerry Dipoto, vowed to have him on the roster for at least the two games the Mariners are playing against the Oakland A’s in Japan to open up the 2019 season.
But how about after that?
Well, Dipoto seemed to imply that the two Japanese-based games might be his only real shot at playing for the Mariners again this season, but he did say that they’ll keep an open mind and give him every shot to prove he still belongs. As for Ichiro? He’s not stopping any time soon, no matter who’s giving him the chance.
When asked if he wants to retire after Japan, Ichiro said no. In fact, he said he wants to play until he’s AT LEAST 50 years old. And apparently, there was no wink or smile along with that response. “A 45-year-old baseball player really shouldn’t be thinking about the future,” Ichiro said. “It’s about today. I’m just going to take it day by day and we’ll get to that point where it does come.”
Ichiro continued: “One of my goals since I turned pro, and time went by,” Ichiro said, “that one day I would play with players that were kids when I was still playing. Right now, I’m at the point I’m playing with guys who were in grade school when I was playing. It definitely gives me some satisfaction.”
It’s been a long time since Ichiro was the player you remember, but his status as one of the all-time greats has LONG been cemented. So then every single time he steps up to the plate against a big league pitcher is special. Rarely do you get the chance to appreciate one of the all-timers still hanging around, so I hope Ichiro keeps to his word and keeps on grinding as long as someone employs him.
Long live the king.