I thought you’d be there until the end,

go into the Hall of Fame as a Mariner –

maybe the only Mariner. Junior left,

and A-Rod left. But I never ever

thought it possible that you would leave.


I saw your press conference,

statements delivered in Japanese,

translated into English.


And then the next thing I knew

you were a Yankee.


To say I was shocked, dismayed,

disappointed, and confused is 

just to begin with the many feelings 

that rose as one when I heard

from a friend - who isn’t even really

into baseball - that you’d been traded. 


While I knew you could not 

be traded against your will, 

I couldn’t imagine your asking for a trade,

couldn’t imagine the Mariners without you,

couldn’t imagine you in pinstripes, 

facing instead of leading us.


You set records with verve and style:

first Japanese position player in the big leagues,

American League MVP and Rookie of the Year 

in 2001, a new season hit record in 2004,

ten seasons batting above .300,

three batting titles, ten Gold Gloves,

ten times an All-Star. 


You went about your business with talent and skill, 

humility and class, both on and off the baseball field.

I admired you as much for who you were

as for how you played.


For so long, you were our Ichiro, Mariner # 51.

Now the implausible has happened, 

and suddenly you’re not.