The Importance of Baseball

When I was 17, (a long, long time ago) I went to Japan. It was part of a Rotary program that sent a group of students to a province for 2 weeks, traveling and staying with host families. An extremely short-term cultural exchange trip.

There were, if I remember correctly 12 of us, and we stayed in pairs. My partner and I had stayed with older people for most of the trip, but about halfway through, in Ofunato, we ended up in a house with kids our age. Specifically, a girl our age and her best friend, who was staying over.

After some ice was broken – and it had to be broken quickly, we were on the move and only ever stayed at a place for two or three days – and had dinner, we four girls began chatting about guys we thought were cute. I say chatting, like it was an easy thing, but my Japanese was incredibly infantile, my partner’s about the same, and their English just a little bit better than our Japanese. So it was a lot of gestures and laughter.

Anyway, we got around to cute athletes, and both of the girls were in raptures over David Beckham. Me? Not so much. I am a long-time Mariners fan. And I have had, since I was about 13 or 14, a gigantic crush on #51. So I go ahead and say, Ichiro.

Seattle Mariners Ichiro Suzuki
Baseball: Seattle Mariners Ichiro Suzuki (51) in dugout during game vs New York Yankees. Bronx, NY 7/2/2009 CREDIT: Erick W. Rasco (Photo by Erick W. Rasco /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: D129941 TK1 R3 F60 )

Pretty much all at once we did the arm swing and sleeve twitch movement. Just smooth as could be. As if we had choreographed it. Haha, three girls (my partner wasn’t into it at all, though) from two countries, two hemispheres, bonding over a man without even needing words.

Seattle Mariners Ichiro Suzuki, 2001 All Star Game
Baseball: All Star Game. Seattle Mariners Ichiro Suzuki at bat during game. Seattle, WA 7/10/2001 MANDATORY CREDIT: V.J. Lovero/Sports Illustrated SetNumber: X63437 TK1 R9 F31

Certain icons bring people together, across languages and cultures. He’s totally one of them. Congrats on 3000, Ichiro Suzuki.

Seattle Mariners Ichiro Suzuki
Baseball: Portrait of Seattle Mariners Ichiro Suzuki (51) during spring training photo shoot at Peoria Sports Complex. Peoria, AZ 2/26/2003 CREDIT: V.J. Lovero (Photo by V.J. Lovero /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X67815 TK1 )

(Yes, I’m aware he’s no longer a Mariner. Leave a girl her delusions, would you?)

(Check more of those pictures at the Sports Illustrated page they did for him! They’re great!)


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