Ichiro Suzuki - Early Life

Early Life

Ichiro grew up in Town of Toyoyama, a relatively small town just outside of Nagoya. At age of seven, Ichiro joined his first baseball team and asked his father, Nobuyuki Suzuki (Suzuki Nobuyuki), to teach him to be a better player. The two began a daily routine which included throwing 50 pitches, fielding 50 infield balls and 50 outfield balls, and hitting 500 pitches, 250 from a pitching machine and 250 from his father.

Medal record
Representing Japan
Men’s Baseball
World Baseball Classic
Gold 2006 San Diego Team
Gold 2009 Los Angeles Team

As a little leaguer in Toyoyama, Ichiro had the word "concentration" (集中, shūchū?) written on his glove. By age 12, he had dedicated himself to pursuing a career in professional baseball, and their training sessions were no longer for leisure, and less enjoyable. The elder Suzuki claimed, "Baseball was fun for both of us," but Ichiro later said, "It might have been fun for him, but for me it was a lot like Star of the Giants," a popular Japanese manga and anime series about a young baseball prospect's difficult road to success, with rigorous training demanded by the father. According to Ichiro, "It bordered on hazing and I suffered a lot."

When Ichiro joined his high school baseball team, his father told the coach, "No matter how good Ichiro is, don't ever praise him. We have to make him spiritually strong." When he was ready to enter high school, Ichiro was selected by a school with a prestigious baseball program, Nagoya's Aikodai Meiden Kōkō. Ichiro was primarily used as a pitcher instead of as an outfielder, owing to his exceptionally strong arm. His cumulative high school batting average was .505, with 19 home runs. He built strength and stamina by hurling car tires and hitting Wiffle balls with a heavy shovel, among other regimens. These exercises helped develop his wrists and hips, adding power and endurance to his thin frame. Despite his outstanding numbers in high school, Ichiro was not drafted until the fourth and final round of the professional draft in November 1991, because many teams were discouraged by his small size of 5 ft 9 1⁄2 in (177 cm) and 124 pounds (56 kg). (Years later, Ichiro told an interviewer, "I'm not a big guy and hopefully kids could look at me and see that I'm not muscular and not physically imposing, that I'm just a regular guy. So if somebody with a regular body can get into the record books, kids can look at that. That would make me happy.")

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