May 11, 2005 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Why does Ichiro Suzuki's jersey say "Ichiro"?

I know he's known commonly as "Ichiro", but I can't recall any MLB team putting a nickname on a jersey. I first thought this might have something to do with the first/last name order that's reversed in some Asian cultures, but I'm pretty sure his surname is Suzuki and that the proper Japanese form is "Suzuki Ichiro". Kaz Matsui's jersey says "Matsui" (I'm pretty sure). The Yanks don't have names on their jerseys, so I can't vouch for Hideki.

This is really, really bugging me ;)
posted by mkultra to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total)
Best answer: It's his preference -- he received special permission to have his first name on the back of his jersey. It's what he did in Japan, too.

posted by johndavi at 8:23 AM on May 11, 2005

Because that's what he wore when he played in Japan.

When he started playing for the Mariners, they informed the league they would continue the practice, and no one complained, so there you have it.
posted by nelleish at 8:28 AM on May 11, 2005

"Suzuki" is as common a family name in Japan as "Smith" is in English-speaking countries.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:33 AM on May 11, 2005

Because he's an egotistical bastard.

But ego's kinda cool and subtle and badass in Japanese culture, y'see.
posted by xmutex at 9:53 AM on May 11, 2005

He also stores his bats in a humidor.
posted by mildred-pitt at 9:57 AM on May 11, 2005

When he played in Japan he had several teammates named Suzuki; his manager decided it would be easier and more interesting to put 'Ichiro' on his jersey.

He got to keep it since he'd had it that way for so long, but his stats are still listed under his last name.
posted by stefanie at 10:03 AM on May 11, 2005

Best answer: Here is a passage from Robert Whiting's book, "The Samurai Way of Baseball":

"It was in 1994 that he also became known by the handle 'Ichiro' rather than Suzuki-which was the second most common surname in Japan. It was a PR stunt dreamed up my [OrixBlue Wave manager] Ogi and an Orix coach in an effort to change the image of a team that had grown weak and complacent, as well as to separate the new outfielder from the anonymous clutter of all the Suzukis in Nippon Professional Baseball. It was an idea Ichiro initially thought frivolous. He found it embarrassing to be introduced that way over the PA system. By the end of the season, however, with Ichiro a household word and commercial endorsement offers flooding in, he did not want to be called anything else."
posted by vito90 at 10:07 AM on May 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Interesting. johndavi, I hope your comment gets fixed, because it nailed the other thing I was wondering- whether there was precedent for this. Vida Blue and Chili Davis both had the same thing, apparently.
posted by mkultra at 10:40 AM on May 11, 2005

Mod note: fixed johndavi's link
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:50 AM on May 11, 2005

Wow, 12 million is a lot of money just to play a sport.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 11:19 AM on May 11, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, Jessamyn!

Wow, 12 million is a lot of money just to play a sport.

On the one hand, yes. On the other, there are a lot of players who are paid well more than Ichiro. And then there are the "A-list" movie actors...
posted by mkultra at 11:38 AM on May 11, 2005

This article has a section about nicknames on uniforms:
Turner assigned Messersmith uniform No. 17—instead of the No. 47 he preferred. He also gave him the strange nickname, "Channel." With the name over the number, the back of Messersmith’s shirt served as a commercial for Turner’s television station—Channel 17 on the local cable system.
posted by hilker at 12:31 PM on May 11, 2005

Wow, 12 million is a lot of money just to play a sport.

Is your knee done jerking? 12 million to play a sport is old (and far outdone) news. We get that you don't like it.
posted by xmutex at 12:45 PM on May 11, 2005

We get that you don't like it.

Maybe you get that; I just saw surprise, as I might expect from anyone who doesn't keep up with sports page salary news. $12 million is a lot of money, to most of us.

That Turner story is crazy!
posted by obloquy at 2:13 PM on May 11, 2005

He Hate Me?
posted by bh at 8:44 PM on May 11, 2005

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