Ichirollins: If Ichiro Journaled Like Henry by Michael T. Fournier

From Get In The Box: On the Road With The Mariners, Yankees and Marlins

By Ichiro Suzuki

Winter 1998:

I was on the Orix Blue Wave. We had fun playing and travelling.

I watched MLB all the time. It was heavy. Guys hitting pitches at a hundred miles per hour. Playing in front of huge crowds. They took no shit. It was like they were from a different planet.

A friend called me. An exhibition was coming to town. All those MLB guys. Did I want in? Of course I said yes. I was unbelievably excited. The night before I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned all night, thinking about being on the same field as players from the mighty MLB.

I did okay. I stole seven bases and hit .380. All those guys were so cool. I hung out with Sammy Sosa and Jamie Moyer. They were friendly and told me stories about life on the road. What a trip.

After the exhibition series, I remember their plane leaving the tarmac and wanting to be in it. I was amazed by how they’d come in, play ball, and fly to the next city to do it again.

After I played against the MLB guys, I knew there was a lot more of the world out there and I was never going to see any of it. I saw my whole life in front of me, playing in the same towns.  Life was kicking my ass. Those guys, playing in America and Canada, they had guts. I wanted what they had.

When I got a chance to go to Seattle, I took it. I would be playing for the Mariners. I sold my house and my car and got on a plane. I started keeping this journal:

4/2/2001. Seattle WA. Got my first MLB hit today. Feels good to get it out of the way.

4/10/2001. Oakland CA. We started playing in and there were about eight thousand people there at most. It made me mad, but I played anyway. After the game, Edgar Martinez took me into the parking lot and straightened me out. He said even though there weren’t many people there, they came to see you and it’s not their fault no one else came. And that you should play your guts out no matter what city the game is in. I learned a lot from Edgar.

4/11/2001. Oakland CA. Terrance Long sure talks a lot of shit. He thought he could run on me. I threw him out at third. As I ran back to the dugout I asked how it felt to be slow. That was a good one.

11/2/2001. Seattle WA. They named me rookie of the year and MVP. The first player to do that since Fred Lynn in 1975. Everyone wants to talk to me. They smile and look at me with hunger in their eyes and ask me for a piece of my flesh. I don’t want to talk to any of them. It’s a waste of time. All that matters is the game. All that matters is playing. If I keep that in mind I’ll be fine.

I did press today. Someone from Sports Illustrated asked me why I’m so heavy. I tried to explain the way I see things. I guess it didn’t work. The world is cold and no one understands me.

10/1/2004. Seattle WA. Broke George Sisler’s record today. 258 hits in a season. I want to do the Ichiro Hot 200: ten years in a row with 200 or more hits. I want to become the most efficient hitting machine possible. I want to incinerate all the pitchers and their weak excuses for fastballs.

7/10/2008. Yankee Stadium. At the All-Star Game. Ortiz got everyone together in the clubhouse and told them I had something to say. For the eighth year in a row I told them about how the National League can get fucked. I told them Ben Sheets mows my lawn and pays me a buck and a half an hour to do it because he sucks and should be annihilated.

They all laughed and told me how funny I was. Their ego stroking is a trip. It’s a bunch of lies.

7/27/2012. Boston MA. People here are usually cool but they let me have it. Saying I’m not as good as I used to be because I’m on the Yankees now. If they tried to do this they couldn’t last a day. I’m going to hit the ball and play my ass off.  That’s all there is on this mission. You play and play and don’t think about it too much.

6/15/2016. San Diego CA. Infield single, then a double. Press says that adding my Japanese hits to my MLB hits makes me the all-time hit king. I am part animal, part hitting machine. 

05/03/2018. Seattle WA. My body won’t do what I tell it to. I can see the hits, but my arms won’t move as fast, my legs. I am no longer the man I was. It hurts. The worst part is the lies I have told myself. That I’m just having a phase. A slump. This is a failure of the flesh.

The team wants me to be a special assistant, basically retire from playing. They’re releasing me from the team and signing me as a manager.

I realize that I must keep moving like a river. I can never go home again or be all that I was.  

6/21/2018. Yankee Stadium. Wanted to sit on the bench but apparently special assistants to the chairman aren’t allowed. I put on a pair of sunglasses and a fake moustache. Sat there anyway. What the fuck. Fuck shit up.

Michael T. Fournier is the author of Double Nickels on the Dime (33 1/3), Hidden Wheel and Swing State (both on Three Rooms Press). He's a regular contributor to Razorcake -- America's only nonprofit punk zine -- and his writing has appeared in Maximum Rocknroll, Oxford American, Vice, Pitchfork, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The RS500, Submerging and more. He's the publisher and of Cabildo Quarterly, a literary broadsheet he co-edits with Maine poet Lisa Panepinto, and he plays drums and write songs for Dead Trend. A lifelong Red Sox fan, Fournier lives on Cape Cod with his wife Rebecca and their cat.

Michael's Blog 
Michael on Twitter: @xfournierx 


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