Ichiro Suzuki being gracious is nothing new. The now retired Seattle Mariners star declined Japan’s prestigious “People’s Honor” award for the third time on Friday, per Kyodo News.
Suzuki, who retired last month during MLB’s opening series in Japan against the Oakland A’s, delivered a message to the Japanese government saying, “I'll strive to be able to receive the award at the end of my life."
In a news conference on April 5, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “Out of respect for his feelings, we decided not to consider bestowing the award in line with his recent retirement."
Suga added, "He's a superstar who continues to give many people hopes and dreams, and I look forward to seeing his activities in the future."
The award, which was established in 1977, has been previously bestowed upon individuals and teams for achievements in sports, entertainment and culture.
Previously, Suzuki was tentatively awarded the honor in 2001 and 2004. Both times Suzuki declined the award saying, “I'd be very thankful if I could receive one when I have finished my baseball career."
Suzuki made his debut in MLB in 2001, after playing several seasons in Japan for the Orix Blue Wave. In his rookie season for the Mariners, he slapped 242 hits and stole 56 bases en route to winning both the AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP awards.
In 2004, Suzuki had 262 hits, which broke the MLB single-season record, a record that still stands today.
Following his retirement, Suzuki was unsure of what he would do next saying, “But all the things that I have learned, if I could share it with kids or major league players, if I can be of any help, that’s what I would like to do."
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