For me, it includes his fascinating ability to play good defense for so many years and his innate ability to slap at a ball and put into play, with 2,826 career hits and counting - career hits in Major League Baseball - not including his 1,278 hits in the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) league where he played in Japan prior to coming over to North America in 2001.
Hit career hits total for both league's is 4,104, which would put him behind Pete Rose (4256) and Ty Cobb (4189), and ahead of Japan baseball's Harimoto Isao (3085), Nomura Katsuya (2901) and the so-called Japanese Babe Ruth, Oh Saduharu 2,786) .
So… Suzuki Ichiro (I refuse to call him Ichiro - damn!, I just did) is in great company with his totals.
So… along with his great defense and great offense, what else does he need to do? Perhaps learn English to better communicate with the fans, media and teammates, but instead, he decided to learn Spanish so he could rip on opposing baseball players.
Brad Lefton of the Wall Street Journal says that Suzuki Ichiro picked up Spanish just so he could talk with Latin American players and—more importantly—trash talk them for a laugh.
Lefton says that Suzuki Ichiro once asked veteran first baseman Carlos Pena: “What the hell are you looking at?” in Spanish after reaching first on an infield hit.
Ichiro also once responded with something not fit to print when Miguel Cabrera called him 'feo' or 'ugly' while he was on the base paths.
While he can’t have a full conversation with them, at least his attempts at short and funny chats has ingratiated him with the Spanish-speaking players, helping build camaraderie.
"I feel a bond with them," he said. "We’re all foreigners in a strange land. We’ve come over here and had to cope with some of the same trials and tribulations. When I throw a little Spanish out at them, they really seem to appreciate it, and it seems to strengthen that bond. And besides, we don’t really have curse words in Japanese, so I like the fact that the Western languages allow me to say things that I otherwise can’t."
Ei? Konoyaro! What do you mean you don't really have 'curse words' in Japanese? Kso! You sure do! Manko-jin!
Hey, I don't mean to toot my own shakuhachi (preferring to let an experienced woman do that for me), but if a sukebe bakayaro such as myself knows a few swear words in Japanese, then surely one who has talked the talk knows a few naughty slang words.
By the way… Suzuki Ichiro's idea of having short humorous chats with people in their language - that' how I survived Japan. In fact, I could probably get my face slapped or slide home on an inside the park homerun for the naughty stuff I know in their language in at least eight or nine different countries.
Back at the 2004 All-Star Game in Houston when the seven Venezuelan players participating in the Midsummer Classic lined up for a picture, one of them asked Ichiro to join them, having him right in the middle.
How about that! Suzuki Ichiro was an honorary gaijin!