It’s hard to imagine Ichiro Suzuki as anything but sagely, stoic, soft-spoken legend. That image was no doubt padded by the fact that when he came to America he was already a man grown, but once upon a time he was a wide-eyed youngster just like the rest of us. Here is a glimpse at young, innocent, star-struck, 22-year-old Ichiro meeting already legendary Michael Jordan in 1995.
Try picking a favorite part of this video. Seriously, try to do it. Ichiro’s Tom and Jerry sweatshirt/turtle neck could be your choice, but what of the supremely, uncharacteristically starstruck Ichiro in general? Or the fact that Hideo Nomo was the biggest Japanese name in baseball? Or that MJ didn’t know whether he was a hitter or pitcher!
A hitter or a pitcher! Like, of course he’s a hitter, Michael!
Of course, this was six years before Ichiro’s debut in Seattle, so you can’t blame Michael for trying extremely hard to feign interest in an unknown Japanese athlete in a sport he just failed at miserably. Still, a barely twentysomething Ichiro was already knocking 200 hits in a season in the competitive Nippon Pro Baseball, as his translator attested. That led to the moneymaker of this whole clip, which was MJ asking if Ichiro would ever play in the majors, to which he responed (via translator), when his arm gets as big as Michael’s. He’s done alright for himself that Ichiro guy.
Young, wide-eyed, innocent Ichiro is my favorite Ichiro. That Tom and Jerry shirt needs to be in a hall of fame somewhere, I don’t really care which one.
[h/t Cut 4]