A 1962 movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, was made by a trio of Hollywood legends, John Ford, John Wayne and James Stewart. The film is most often referenced because at its dramatic conclusion, came one of the greatest lines in movie history:
Ransom Stoddard [Stewart]: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
At some point, the facts about Ichiro Suzuki may be zig-zaging into legend territory, but its hard to tell from my vantage point here in the deep South, aka Miami. I get to say that since I grew up around folks who pronounced it ‘My-Ama’ and had a neighbor who played a mean banjo.
A sampling of recent articles about Ichiro and the facts, or legends-to-be, they report:
Joe Trezza – Miami Herald – Unique training and preparation:
Like all players, Ichiro will stretch. But he starts earlier than most players and won’t really ever stop … one of the few major-leaguers who doesn’t lift weights. Instead he prefers a rigorous flexibility routine that requires specialized machines, targets often-overlooked joints and promotes improved blood circulation….
Ichiro has been placed on the disabled list just once in 14 seasons. He does the routine up to four times per day — when he wakes up, before team stretches at the ballpark, before the game and again at home after the game.
What separates Ichiro from other players isn’t his work ethic. Instead it’s a meticulousness that touches every aspect of his preparation.
“He’s the most interesting man in the world,” Marlins hitting coach Frank Menechino said.
Ted Berg – USA Today – Personal coverage and fame:
… Nobuyuki Kobayashi scribbles something on a notepad. He is monitoring Ichiro’s every action, the same way he has nearly every day of every season since the future Hall of Famer arrived on the Major League landscape in 2001….
Kobayashi works for Daily Sports, a Japanese newspaper. He will cover the Ichiro beat again this season, and he is one of only two reporters — with Keizo Konishi of the Kyodo News — that have been following the outfielder stateside since his spectacular first season in Seattle.
At that time, Kobayashi estimates, the number of media covering Ichiro approached 100. This year, including the photographers, the count is closer to 10….
“I think it’s kind of cool,” says Marlins teammate Jose Fernandez of Ichiro’s constant coverage. “Everybody wants to know what he’s doing. All the people in Japan want to know how he’s doing. Everyone in the U.S. wants to know what he’s doing.
“In Cuba, he’s like a god. Everyone loves him over there, like crazy. They admire the way he plays the game, and it’s amazing just to be part of the same team with him. He’s probably more famous than anybody in the big leagues in Cuba. Even more famous than a lot of Cubans that play here, in my opinion.”
Joe Frisaro – MLB Blog – Japan to Jupiter:
A man named, Tats Suzuki (no relation) actually traveled from Japan to Jupiter [to run a marathon] and see the iconic Ichiro.
“Ichiro Mania” is certainly nothing new on the world stage. The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer has been a sensation since he was a teenager in Japan, and during his remarkable career with the Mariners.
Miami’s Spring Training home in Jupiter, Fla., is starting to understand what so many other places already know when it comes to Ichiro. The 41-year-old, 10-time All-Star is more than just a baseball superstar. He is a legend.
The tale of Tats Suzuki is more proof.
As another legend might say, tats some fans you got there pilgrim.