I love baseball for its graceful moments and its stories. One player who epitomizes both for me is Ichiro Suzuki. Perhaps I’m partial to him because he is short-statured like I am. He is big in his speed, grace, ability, and accomplishments. Plus I like his history of defying people’s expectations. In 2001, the year he became the first non-pitcher to make a career move from Japanese to North American professional baseball, not only did he hold his own but he won a multitude of awards and honors—including Rookie of the Year, American League Most Valuable Player, American League Golden Glove, highest batting average, and most stolen bases.
Next Tuesday is the fifth anniversary of my favorite Ichiro moment. In honor of that occasion and of the celebration of baseball that is the All-Star Game, I’m posting this poem.
15 SECONDS July 10, 2007, sparkling San Francisco stadium, 78th All-Star Game. Top of the fifth, American League down 0-1, Roberts on first. Already with two hits tonight, stellar leadoff man, Ichiro Suzuki, steps to the plate. First pitch— fastball. Whack! Baseball soars towards right-field wall. Ichiro sprints. Baseball flies over outfielder Griffey. Ichiro’s still sprinting. Baseball ricochets off a crazy pad-covered corner. It darts away from Griffey, who chases. Roberts scores. Ichiro’s past first, past second, third-base coach waves: “Keep going!” Griffey grabs the ball. He throws long, but it’s too high and too late. No need to slide, Ichiro steps onto home plate 15 seconds after he left it. This hit was the first inside-the-park home run in a Major League Baseball All-Star Game. It was also Ichiro’s first in his two-continent career. That night Ichiro became the first Japanese player to win the All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player award. People once wondered if Ichiro was too short and skinny to succeed in Japan, and later in North America. His record-breaking hit is one of many accomplishments that make him a star on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. © Karin Fisher-Golton, 2012
Watch video footage of Ichiro’s record-breaking home run here.
Whew! I made my goal to get my blog up and running AND get this poem posted on the Poetry Friday before the All-Star Game. Delve into more Friday poetry at Tabatha Yeatts’ blog.