Before reaching first-name-only cult status as a pro baseball player, Ichiro Suzuki was just another kid riding his bicycle to school.
But unlike the fate of most of those kids’ bikes, Ichiro’s bicycle is on display in the four-story Ichiro Museum his parents own and operate in Toyoyama, Japan.
Seattle Times sports writer Geoff Baker paid a visit to that museum recently in advance of the Mariners heading to Japan to open their season against the Oakland A’s. Baker describes the museum in “Shrine to Ichiro, baseball greatness is just a mom-and-pop operation.” He writes:
“But that celebrity stuff is kept largely to the side. More front and center is the bicycle Ichiro rode to high school, a silver Kamakiri hanging from the wall with its big plastic basket attached to the front. One of the handlebars is scraped, damaged when Ichiro was hit by a car as a teenager.”
Several years ago, Ichiro mentioned the crash in an interview with a reporter at the Seattle P-I who asked him what was his most painful injury:
“When I was a high school student, I was riding my bicycle to school and a car hit me on the side, struck my leg. It didn’t break, but it was very swollen. I couldn’t play for a month.”
Makes me wonder if he still feels a little tightness in his leg when he squats to stretch his legs in the on-deck circle today.