Ichiro Suzuki may have officially retired from professional baseball but that doesn’t mean he’s left the field altogether. One of the most prolific hitters of all time, Ichiro had many talents as a player who is known for hitting singles and playing outstanding outfield over more than two decades.
But there was always talk about the Japanese legend that he could have been more, if he wanted. The quiet whispers about his home run prowess shown off in batting practice despite his commitment to hitting for average rather than power during the game. And now, it seems, we know he could have been quite a compelling pitching prospect as well. According to the English version of Japanese site Kyodo News, Ichiro was the star of a version of baseball called “kusayakyu” in Japanese, which apparently uses a hard rubber ball.
The 46-year-old played in a neighborhood game in Japan recently and not only still swung the bat well, but was dealing in a 131-pitch outing where he allowed six hits and zero runs.
Suzuki’s team of his local acquaintances, “Kobe Chiben,” beat the teachers from high school baseball powerhouse Chiben Wakayama 14-0. The former major league star allowed six hits, while striking out 16 and walking none over the distance.
At bat, Suzuki went 3-for-4 with a walk.
“I can still make it work,” Suzuki said after his 131-pitch game. “No problems at all regarding either my elbow or shoulder.”
“It was a blast.”
If you don’t believe it, here is a video that showed him both hitting and on the mound.
There’s something inherently unfair about Ichiro showing up with a bunch of his friends and destroying you at what’s essentially playground baseball. Kind of like if LeBron went to a court in LA with his kids and challenged you at 3-on-3 hoops. But according to those involved, everyone had a blast.
Kiyoshi Fujita, who managed the teachers, said, “Sandlot players aren’t going to hit pitches like that.”
“Every member of our team is going to remember meeting the world-famous Ichiro. It really was fun.”
It sounds fun as hell, even if it made for tough sledding in the game because Ichiro was dealing. Just another thing he’s capable of on the baseball field, I guess.