The idea of any athlete playing professional sports into their late 30’s or 40s is a curious one. Some people may make accusations of chasing after records, championships, or achievements in a late push to propel a player’s legacy. Others may say that it is a player just ignoring the fact that all they can do is play. All of these things may be true, but this year there is one player in baseball who seems to be breaking that trend. 42 year Ichiro Suzuki, of the Miami Marlins, is out to make history. This year Ichiro is attempting to be the 30th member in the 3,000 hits club. However, let’s compare Ichiro’s journey to that of another charismatic offensive genius, the late Mr. Padre Tony Gwynn.
Ichiro Suzuki has been a right fielder for the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, and Miami Marlins. He played for nine years in the Japan Pacific league with the Orix Blue Wave (currently named as the Orix Buffaloes as of 2004) before he signed with Seattle in 2001. In his rookie MLB season at age 27, he was named the American League Rookie of the Year and the American League’s Most Valuable Player. The first player to do so since Fred Lynn in 1975 with the Boston Red Sox. The accolades never stopped for Ichiro, over the course of 16 season in the MLB he was an All-Star for 10 years in a row (2001-2010). In addition to that, Suzuki was also award ten straight Gold Gloves ( 2001-2010), a feat that is shared with Ken Griffey, Willie Mays, Al Kaline, and Andruw Jones. The honor missing from the man, who has led the AL in hits seven times, is a World Series victory.
The other notable great hitter to never grasp victory in a World Series is Tony Gwynn. The lifelong San Diego Padre was a member of the team for 20 seasons. Some would refer to him as the one of the greatest hitters in baseball after Ted Williams and Pete Rose, and the numbers back that up. Gwynn led National League in batting average 8 times and finishing with a career average of .338, which puts him at 18th overall- just behind Lou Gehrig. The Padres legendary right fielder amassed an astonishing amount of awards during his tenure: 15 All-Star selections, 7 National League Silver Sluggers and 5 Gold Gloves. Tony’s greatest moment came in 1994 when he nearly batted for .400, but was unable to reach the elusive landmark due to a lockout which shortened the season.