Ichiro’s Best Mariners Moment: The Throw


The nature of baseball makes great plays and ‘oh-wow’ moments fleeting and makes the moments that we do remember that much more special. Jeter’s flip to Posada is forever burned into my brain.

I still remember exactly what I was doing when Joe Carter ended the 1993 World Series with a walk-off home run. Mention names like Dent or Boone to any Red Sox fan and make sure you duck the incoming punch. The moments that do stand out are visceral and generate either pain or joy in those they affect.

Ichiro was the type of player that made that standout plays routine. His flair for the game bordered on performance art. From the way he would stretch in the on-deck circle and put the pitcher in his crosshairs at the plate to the perfectly timed sliding catches he would make in right field, it was all part of one memorable performance.

Ichiro’s 2001 season was a tour de force, he hit .350, stole 56 bases and posted a 7.7 WAR. He won the MVP and Rookie of the Year Awards and was the catalyst that led the Mariners to 116 wins. It was a season of great moments for Ichiro. Yet his greatest moment in a Mariner’s uniform came on an April night when he unleashed what is now know to Mariners fans as “The Throw”. It was the moment when Ichiro officially marked his arrival in America.

On a soft base hit to right, Terrance Lang rounded second in search of a third base he would never reach. Ichiro was playing deep in a ‘no-doubles’ defense as the Mariners led 3-0. Ichiro started this play just steps from the warning track making it even more impressive. Long was not slow, but the ball absolutely explodes off of Ichiro’s right hand.

Re-watching the throw it’s almost as if Ichiro unveiled a more powerful throwing technique that day. A technique that he would tell Barack Obama was called “soft muscle”. It just didn’t make sense. How can a player as slight as Ichiro could generate that much power as if he was a real-life Sid Finch in right field?

The accuracy of the throw was astounding as it arrived in David Bell’s glove right on Long’s foot. Bell didn’t need to do a thing but open and close his glove and Long was dead on arrival.

The camera lingers on Ichiro after the play. His face a combination of a job well done and that emotion one feels after they tell a secret they weren’t supposed to divulge. Almost like he’s thinking to himself “Well now they know” but also slightly impressed with himself. It was a stunning moment for anyone watching and truly marked the beginning of the legend of Ichiro.

Next: Ichiro's 5 Greatest Moments

Terrance Long was the first victim of Ichiro’s cannon in right. But he was not the last as the laser beams from right field kept coming. It was a wonder to watch him play right field.

Of course, Ichiro’s Mariners legend is cemented. He is truly one of the greatest players in franchise history. Perhaps the best Japanese player ever to don a major league uniform. There will never be another player like him and there may never be a moment quite like “The Throw”.

Thank you Ichiro, enjoy your retirement.