From Area 51 to the laser beam: Re-meet Mariner Ichiro Suzuki

In honor of the Mariners, we want to introduce — or maybe reintroduce — a historic Seattleite to you. Whether you’re a baseball geek or refer to the game as “sportsball,” you should know this name: Ichiro Suzuki (who everyone just calls Ichiro).  

The legendary outfielder began his U.S. baseball career on the Mariners in 2001 and made baseball history by setting a bunch of records. Then he broke Seattle’s heart when he was traded to the New York Yankees in 2012. But now he’s BACK and everyone’s been talking about it. So who is this guy exactly? Here’s what to know.  

WHY HE’S IMPORTANT: At 44 years old, Ichiro (ee-chee-roh) is one of the oldest U.S. major league baseball players. He began his baseball career at 18 in Japan’s Pacific League. He’s earned countless awards and is one of 31 major league baseball players ever to make it into the 3,000 Hit Club, a milestone for batters who’ve made 3,000+ hits at home base.

(📹: GIPHY)

FUN FACT: The right side of Safeco’s baseball field, where Ichiro was positioned, used to be known as “Area 51,” a nod to his player number and because it was “where baseballs disappear.”

WHY HE’S SO SPECIAL: His frighteningly fast throws. Ichiro’s throw even had its own name: The Laser Beam. Watch it in action here.

BEST QUOTE: “I’m not a big guy and hopefully kids could look at me and see that I’m not muscular and not physically imposing, that I’m just a regular guy. So if somebody with a regular body can get into the record books, kids can look at that. That would make me happy.”

WHEN TO SEE HIM IN ACTION: Ichiro might not be playing during the Mariners’ opening day game against the Cleveland Indians tomorrow, due to a calf injury. While we all cross our fingers for a swift recovery, you can grab tickets for later in the season here.

The Mariners have changed a lot over the years and they’ve had a few ups and downs. What are some of your favorite moments watching the Mariners? Let’s think back on ‘em here.