Yusei Kikuchi couldn't keep himself together.
When Ichiro Suzuki, the man he recently called "like a god in Japan" in an ESPN article, reached the 27-year-old Mariners rookie outside of the dugout at the Tokyo Dome, Kikuchi shook his hand, looked him in the eyes, and tears quickly came out. That lasting image is one that defines how so many, from Japan to the United States and beyond, feel about Ichiro hanging it up.
The 45-year-old played his final MLB game on Thursday, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the Mariners' 5-4 win over the A's. From his 20s to his 40s, the opening pages and final chapter of this Hall of Fame career came against the A's, and with the same final results of the game.
Ichiro's first career MLB game (2001): Mariners beat A's, 5-4
Ichiro's final career MLB game (2019): Mariners beat A's, 5-4— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) March 21, 2019
On April 2, 2001, Ichiro made his MLB debut in Oakland against the A's. After starting the game 0-for-3, he hit a shot up the middle out of the reach of Miguel Tejada. The sharply-hit single was No. 1 of 3,089 MLB base knocks.
Ichiro's MLB debut was Game 1 of 238 he played against the A's. The A's honored him throughout the Opening Series in Japan, but they certainly won't miss the kind of numbers he produced against them.
Over his 19-year career, Ichiro totaled 320 hits against the A's with a .324 batting average.
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A legend has laced his cleats for the final time. From his signature swing, to his rocket of an arm, Ichiro will live on in the hearts of baseball fans.