Last summer future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki became the 30th member of the 3,000-hit club, when is truly incredible when you consider he did not come over to MLB until age 27. Between Japan and MLB, Ichiro has 4,308 career hits, the most in professional baseball history.
Ichiro, now 43, is the oldest active position player and second oldest active player in baseball, behind only Bartolo Colon. He re-signed with the Marlins over the winter and will again serve as the team’s backup outfielder behind their loaded young outfield of Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, and Marcell Ozuna.
While he no longer is the hitter he was at his peak, Ichiro remains a productive player, hitting .291/.354/.376 (101 OPS+) in his part-time role in 2016. And according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, Ichiro has no plans to hang up his spikes anytime soon. He wants to play until he’s 50. From Spencer:
He said he wants to continue playing until he’s 50.
“I’m not joking when I say it,” Suzuki said.
“When you retire from baseball, you have until the day you die to rest,” he said.
And when the day finally comes to retire?
“I think I’ll just die,” he said.
Suzuki has long been known for keeping himself in tremendous shape as well as his strict routine. He works out at the same time and hits at the same time, day after day after day. Spencer says Ichiro hasn’t taken a vacation in at least a decade -- not even during the offseason! -- because the last time he did, it threw his workout routine out of whack.
In many ways Ichiro is the baseball version of Jaromir Jagr, that all-time great who has become an ageless wonder. He’s not hanging around because he wants to make money and set records. He’s done that already. Ichiro is still playing because he loves baseball and was put on this Earth to play the game. They’re going to have to tear the uniform off this guy.