Samson: Ichiro "Makes The Beatles Look Like Howard Stern"

"This is a totally different level of fame," David Samson said

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
March 21, 2019 - 9:50 am

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Ichiro Suzuki received a special send-off at the Tokyo Dome on Wednesday, as fans and countrymen thanked the retiring Mariner for his illustrious baseball career. 

CBS Sports HQ analyst David Samson was there to see it.

“I’m lucky enough have been in some great moments in the sports world – from a World Series to an All-Star Game to the first game at a ballpark – and this felt different to me,” Samson said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It felt like an appreciation of an entire country was all flowing toward one man as a thank you for what he did and the memories he made for them. You got that feeling. I know it sounds poetic, but it really felt that way. People were very respectful. They were cheering, but they weren’t going crazy. They weren’t acting as though it was some rock star. They acted with respect, and it felt very different, very special.”

Ichiro, 45, will reportedly retire Thursday, ending a playing career that lasted more than quarter of a century. He began his career in Japan before debuting with the Mariners in 2001. In his first big league season, he was named both AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP. He ends his career as a 10-time All-Star, a 10-time Gold Glove winner, and a member of the 3,000-hit club.

“(Japan) did a vote to see which emperor or which figure from history in Japanese history should go on the currency, and Ichiro finished in the top five – as a living man to go on the currency,” Samson said in disbelief. “You’re talking abut someone who makes the Beatles look like Howard Stern. This is a totally different level of fame. This is different than Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Tom Brady – this is a different thing.”

Ichiro played for the Mariners (2001-12), Yankees (2012-14), Marlins (2015-17) and Mariners again. Samson had previously spent time with Ichiro in Tokyo, and it was a unique experience.

“It can be lonely for him,” Samson said, “but he also recognizes that people view him and genuflect toward him in a way that is just hard to get used to, actually.”