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On August 27th this past season, the Mariners inducted their former superstar, Ichiro Suzuki, into the Mariner Hall of Fame.  One of the Mariner events that day was a community event at NVC discussing the “Impact of Ichiro.”

Following a tour of our building and museum conducted by Chris Sketchley, the dignitaries assembled on our gym stage for the panel discussion.  Japanese Consul General Hisao Inagaki began the event with a short speech about Japan and Ichiro. Lori Matsukawa served as an excellent and entertaining MC for the discussion. The dignitaries on the panel included Robert Whiting,  who authored several highly successful books on Japan including the best-selling You Gotta Have Wa (on baseball in Japan); Chuck Armstrong, Mariner president who brought Ichiro to the Mariner; Don Wakamatu, the only Japanese American to manage a major league team;  Alvin Davis, Mr. Mariner and American League rookie of the year in 1984; Jim Colborn, Mariner scout who discovered Ichiro; and Ted Heid, Mariner International Scout who recruited all of the Japanese league players for the Mariners. To the delight of audience, the Mariner Moose was also in attendance.   

The theme of the event was the impact of Ichiro on American baseball.  However, all the stories revolved around each panel members’ Ichiro memories.  They all recalled their humorous stories about Ichiro and his time with the Mariners.  Everyone mentioned Ichiro’s singular focus and dedication to baseball during his career with the Mariners. Former Mariner president Chuck Armstrong recalled the influence of former owner Hiroshi Yamauchi to bring Ichiro to Seattle from the Japanese league.  He also stated that the desire of Mr. Yamauchi for Ichiro to play in a World Series led to the Ichiro trade to the NY Yankees.

One interesting story told by scout Ted Heid was the fact that Ichiro diligently studied English and Spanish.  He spoke both languages very well and was able to converse with the Latin and American players in private.  Ted also stated that Ichiro would give his Mariner Hall of Fame speech in English.  That evening, the sellout crowd at T-Mobile Park received an excellent and lengthy speech from Ichiro in English and Japanese.   Ichiro will be eligible for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 2025.

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