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Farewell Ichiro, a respected rival

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MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Ichiro Suzuki took an emotional trip from his customary spot in right field to the dugout early this morning. A trip he’d taken countless times before. What made this one different, is that it would be his last.

Suzuki arrived in America in 2001, joining the Angels division rival Seattle Mariners for the prime of his MLB career. He swept the league by storm, winning both AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP along the way.

Yes, he was a rival, but any true fan of baseball could see they were witnessing greatness. And uniqueness. Whether he was stretching in right field between batters or running down the first base line beating out a single, Ichiro was fun to watch.

Ok, he could be infuriating to watch as an Angels fan. At his peak, he’d hit the ball straight down off of home plate and be almost to first by the time an infielder caught it. It was indefensible, it extended innings and created runs, it was maddening as an opposing fan. But it was also beautiful in its simplicity. A reminder that in baseball you don’t have to be a giant to be effective.

Perhaps the most amazing part of his career was the incredible arm. A guy his size having a cannon like that seemed unreal. Here is his most iconic throw.

So, as Ichiro departs the game, he leaves as a rival well respected. A man who played the game the right way, who brought new waves of fans to the game and who departed with an exit fit for a legend.

Please share some stories about times you saw Ichiro play below.