Newspaper article International New York Times

Suzuki Relishes a Shrine He'll Likely Enter ; He's Visited Hall of Fame 6 Times and Pledged His Artifacts to Cooperstown

Newspaper article International New York Times

Suzuki Relishes a Shrine He'll Likely Enter ; He's Visited Hall of Fame 6 Times and Pledged His Artifacts to Cooperstown

Article excerpt

Suzuki has visited the Hall six times, including his first during his rookie season in 2001. He has pledged to bequeath his entire collection of artifacts to the Hall.

Over a long career that has brought him nearly to 3,000 hits, Ichiro Suzuki has visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame six times, always in the off-season and as unobtrusively as one of the greatest hitters in baseball history can be when he ventures to the village of Cooperstown, N.Y., with a small entourage. Sometimes he is there on a day trip; sometimes he stays overnight.

"It's a special place," said Allen Turner, his interpreter. "He said you have to be there to really understand why he keeps going back."

Suzuki made his first visit to the Hall after his rookie year, in 2001, the first of 10 consecutive seasons with the Seattle Mariners in which he had at least 200 hits. He returned to Cooperstown most recently in 2013, after his second season with the Yankees. Now with the Miami Marlins, he is hitting .341 as a part-time player and had raised his career hit total to 2,996 as of Saturday. He was to be at Marlins Park on Sunday, playing the Mets, when Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza are to be inducted into the Hall.

Suzuki's tours have taken him through the museum, where he saw an exhibit that celebrated his single-season record of 262 hits in 2004. He has looked at old documents in the library and examined historic equipment in the climate-controlled archive that stores the trove of artifacts that are not displayed. Suzuki has donated many of his artifacts to the Hall and has pledged to eventually bequeath his entire collection.

Inside the archive, which is not open to the public, he has doted on the historic bats -- Babe Ruth's, Shoeless Joe Jackson's and Wee Willie Keeler's -- that the hall sets aside for his viewing and analysis. He taps each one as he slides it gently between his fingers while holding it close to his ear. Recalling the ritual, Tom Shieber, senior curator of the Hall, said it was as if Suzuki were searching for the "resonant point" in the bat where it would ring.

Turner said by telephone on Thursday that Suzuki tapped his own bats in a similar fashion. …

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