Reliving Ichiro's best a year after final game

Outfielder wowed baseball fans with his glove, arm and bat

March 21st, 2020

One year ago today, on March 21, 2019, played the final game of his illustrious Major League career.

It was an emotional occasion. The Mariners were in Tokyo, playing the A's in the finale of the two-game Japan Series, for which Ichiro had returned in order to play again in his home country. Before the game, the 45-year-old revealed what many had suspected -- that he would be retiring as a player after this last hurrah.

Ichiro started in his customary spot in right field, and while he went 0-for-4, that was beside the point. The fans cheered his every move, and his teammates -- plus Ken Griffey Jr. -- greeted him warmly when he was replaced after going out to his position for the bottom of the eighth inning.

It was a memorable event, capping a career filled with them. Here then, on the first anniversary of Ichiro's farewell, are his top 10 MLB moments:

The 3,000th hit: Even though he spent nine years in Japan racking up 1,276 hits before venturing to the Majors, Ichiro became the 30th player in MLB history to join the 3,000 hit club with a triple off the wall off Rockies reliever Chris Rusin while playing with the Marlins on Aug. 7, 2016.

Step aside, George Sisler: Ichiro set a single-season hit record in 2004 when he passed Hall of Famer George Sisler in the final days of his fourth season in Seattle. Sisler cranked out 257 hits for the St. Louis Browns in 1920 and nobody touched that mark until Ichiro moved past him on Oct. 1 on the way to a remarkable 262-hit season.

Welcome to Ichiro's arm: While hits are clearly Ichiro's calling card, his right arm deserves plenty of attention as well and was a big part of his run of 10 straight Gold Glove Awards from 2001-10. The Major League world was alerted to this part of Ichiro's game early in his rookie year when he fired a laser -- since come to be known as "The Throw" -- from right field to nail Terrence Long of the A's trying to go first to third on a base hit.

All-Star moment: Ichiro made 10 All-Star Games during his first 10 years in Seattle, a decade of dominance from a guy who made a living on infield singles and stolen bases. But he had some pop in that bat as well and, yeah, he could run. So of course it was an inside-the-park homer in the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco that will be long remembered, a shot off the wall that former and future teammate Ken Griffey Jr. had to chase down as Ichiro circled the bases.

Walk it off: The man who has the sixth-most singles in MLB history at 2,514 also hit a few homers, 117 to be exact, in his 18 seasons. His best regular-season shot? That would be a walkoff homer off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Sept. 18, 2009.

You really can go home: Ichiro returned to play in Japan in 2012 when the Mariners faced the A's in the first two games of the regular season in the Tokyo Dome. Playing in front of a boisterous crowd -- and a huge advertisement bearing his picture on the back wall of the Dome in left field -- he got four hits in the Opening Day win.

The hit machine: If anything epitomizes Ichiro's MLB career it's his remarkable consistency. And on Sept. 23, 2010, he ripped his 200th hit of the season in Toronto … which made him the first player ever to reach 200 hits in 10 straight seasons.

Trading sides: With Ichiro, unique things always seemed to happen. So, of course, when Seattle choose to trade him to the Yankees on July 23, 2012, the swap came when the Yankees were playing at Safeco Field. Ichiro merely traded clubhouses and uniforms and played that night in right field for the Yankees. He was given a huge ovation by the Mariners fans before his first at-bat and extended heartfelt bows to the crowd in return.

He hits and he takes 'em away: Ichiro made plenty of spectacular catches in right field for the Mariners, but one that leaps to the top of the list was his "Spider-man" effort on May 2, 2005, to steal a home run from the Angels' Garret Anderson.

A showman to the end: Ichiro didn't hit much when he returned to the Mariners for 15 games in 2018, batting .205 in 44 at-bats. But his Opening Night return for his first time in a Seattle uniform since 2012 lit up the Safeco Field crowd and he provided one last highlight-reel moment by robbing Cleveland's by going up over the wall to steal a home run in the second game of the season.