Ichiro enjoys an amateur game in Kobe, pitching 16 strikeouts

KOBE, Japan (The Japan News/ANN) - Baseball icon Ichiro Suzuki, who retired in March, was back on the field Sunday, enjoying playing in a game with amateurs at Hotto Motto Field Kobe stadium.

Baseball icon Ichiro Suzuki, who retired in March, was back on the field Sunday, enjoying playing in a game with amateurs at Hotto Motto Field Kobe stadium.

The stadium was home to the Orix BlueWave, for whom Ichiro started his career as a standout player before heading to further stardom in Major League Baseball.

 Ichiro, a Gold Glove outfielder, was the starting pitcher of a team he formed with friends and others, leading them to a 14-0 victory over a team of teachers from Chiben Wakayama High School in Wakayama.

 In autumn last year, Ichiro watched a game played by the school’s baseball team and told the high school afterward that he was impressed by the performance of the school’s brass band cheering for the team. Then the school sent him a CD of the brass band’s performance. Thus began exchanges between the school and the baseball star.

 Ichiro, who said during his farewell press conference that he wanted to get involved in amateur baseball, asked the school to play against his team.

 He took the pitcher’s mound wearing No. 1 on his jersey and wowed the crowd of about 3,000 by pitching a shutout with 16 strikeouts, while also getting three hits at the plate.

 “I have no problem in my shoulders or elbow. It was so much fun. I’d like to do this every year,” he said with a smile after the game.

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