Sports : Tuesday, April 03, 2001
Dad takes in Ichiro's debut
By Bob Finnigan
Seattle Times staff reporter
The man responsible for starting Ichiro on the path that led
him to Opening Night at Safeco Field was watching attentively from the
first row behind the Mariner dugout last night.
Nobuyuki Suzuki, Ichiro's father, had come to see his son make his
debut on this side of the Pacific Ocean, far in time as well as distance
from the days when he faithfully took his child to practice.
"During the day, Mr. Suzuki would work at his small cooler
repair shop," said Ted Heid, Mariner scout and interpreter.
"Later in the afternoon, he would take Ichiro to a nearby
elementary school where they would use the field for playing catch and
hitting, taking ground balls and running."
The two would go home, Ichiro would do his homework, and then
the father would take his son to the local batting center, which is what
the Japanese call batting cages.
According to some of the Japanese media, the elder Suzuki spent many
coins feeding the pitching machines so Ichiro could hone his
"There probably was a bit of money involved," Heid said.
"But it was much more an investment of time. They had a deal, you
see. Mr. Suzuki agreed to put in the time, and Ichiro agreed to
put in the effort."
In a statement issued to the Japanese media before the game, Suzuki's
father said: "I wish Ichiro the best after his signing (with
the Mariners) and that he keeps well in this situation of playing
baseball in a very different world. I wish him well playing because it
is his most favorite thing."
The 57-year old retiree, who now helps Ichiro with some of his
business affairs, said he worried how his son would do playing in the
United States. "But I am actually very pleased to see he is doing
well here," he added.
Ichiro smiled when a reporter mentioned his dad being at the
"It's a special night for me," he said. "This makes it