Earlier this morning (if you’re on the East Coast), Ichiro Suzuki officially retired from baseball. Playing in his native Japan, Ichiro called it quits in what was a truly awesome moment. As the game ended, the entire Mariners’ lineup shook hands with the certain Hall Of Fame’r as he got a chance to acknowledge the crowd one last time. Seeing Ichiro play one last time in a Mariners uniform – in Tokyo – was an excellent send-off that the league should be praised for.
What Ichiro’s career has meant to Japanese baseball is unrivaled. His success paved the way for other NPB players – such as Hideki Matsui, Yu Darvish and Kenta Maeda to get large MLB contracts right off the bat while delivering All Star caliber production. Ichiro also proved to the world that the NPB is a legitimate league and that image continues to this day.
When combining both his NPB and MLB stats, Ichiro is the all-time leader in hits with 4,367 and is a member of the major league 3,000 hit club.
Ichiro Was One Of Two Remaining Active Players From Backyard Baseball 2003
If you were born in the 90’s, the retirement of Ichiro hits in a different way. As Ichiro walks away, Albert Pujols is now the only remaining active player from Backyard Baseball 2003.
Now, you wanna talk 2000’s nostalgia? Backyard Baseball will provide an enormous wave of it. I was six years old when the game came out and clearly remember that it providing my earliest feel for baseball. Watching the juice-box go down taught pitcher fatigue, I learned how to mix speedsters with power and it was also the first video game I ever got hooked on. It’s so old that video game wasn’t even a term I knew. My brother and I called it a “computer game” and a console was a totally alien concept until a couple years later.
Backyard Baseball really was a classic game. The real life pro characters served as an introduction to the league for a generation of fans. It couldn’t have come at a more crucial time, either. Released just a couple years before the Mitchell report, it got kids into baseball just before a really turbulent time for the sport. If Backyard Baseball didn’t lay the foundation, would we even be baseball fans today? *hits blunt*
In addition to the pro characters – which included Barry Bonds, Vlad Guerrero, Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins among others; Backyard Baseball had some truly memorable originals. I guarantee that there is nobody on this earth who played that game and doesn’t remember Pablo Sanchez. When that fat ass hobbled his way to the plate -bat dragging behind him – you knew a dinger was coming. Nowadays, he probably upgraded from chewing gum to tobacco and works in a mail-room. He had talent, but it would have declined over time because he was already fat as shit at the age of 5. Child abuse if we’re being real.
Pablo wasn’t the only memorable name though. If you had Pete Wheeler, aka the white Rickey Henderson, you knew a double was gonna bring him home from first. Angela Delvecchio could pitch and her brother Tony looked like a young Henry Hill.
Backyard Baseball was even ahead of its time in terms of politically correct representation. Just like those math textbook problems where everyone is a different ethnicity, the game included a guy in a wheelchair. Very woke and ahead of its time guys, good work.
Don’t for one second think I’m hating on my boy though. Kenny Kawaguchi could fly in that wheelchair and was one of only two players in the game with four stars in pitching.
Did reading these names give you that wave of nostalgia? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Even the sounds of this game just bring me back.
Honestly though, I really hope that they don’t revive this game. A modern remake would be too complex and it would just be a quick cash grab; a cash grab that we will all participate in when they market it to our kids. But until then, the ghost of Albert Pujols is the only active MLB player remaining from 2003.
I hope this article made you feel old, because I certainly do.