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Dee Gordon thanks Ichiro Suzuki with full-page newspaper ad

By
Alex Butler
Former Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was teammates with Dee Gordon (R) for five seasons before Suzuki opted to retire March 21 in Tokyo. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI
Former Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was teammates with Dee Gordon (R) for five seasons before Suzuki opted to retire March 21 in Tokyo. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo

March 28 (UPI) -- Seattle Mariners star Dee Gordon paid homage to former teammate Ichiro Suzuki with a full-page ad in Thursday's Seattle Times.

Gordon became teammates with Suzuki in 2015 on the Miami Marlins. Suzuki and Gordon played in the same uniforms for through 2017, before Gordon was traded to the Mariners in December 2017. Suzuki signed with the Mariners as a free agent just before the 2018 season.

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The duo took the field together in Japan to start the 2019 season, before Suzuki announced his retirement.

Gordon's emotional farewell began with the words "Thank you, Ichiro" written in capital leaders for the headline. He called Suzuki a great friend and his "favorite player to this day."

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"You made me want to play baseball," Gordon wrote. "I idolized you as a kid in Avon Park. We even named a player after you in an old video game that came out before I was born."

Gordon said he met Suzuki at the All-Star Game in 2004 in Houston. The Mariners star -- who entered the league in 2008 -- said he remembered seeing Suzuki stretch before the game while he was attending with his dad.

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"No one does that," Gordon wrote.

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Gordon said Suzuki showed him that he could do anything he wanted to do in the game, even when the other players are twice his size. The veteran infielder also admitted to allowing a hit to Suzuki because he was paying more attention to his idol than he was to playing defense when he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Gordon said he was "crushed" when Suzuki was traded to the Yankees before he could share a conversation with him about hitting. He then described his emotions when Suzuki signed with the Marlins.

"Now I'm jumping up and down, yelling to my best friend, 'YO!!! I get to play with Ichi-bruh?! Like, are you serious? Me? No way!' I remember going to Jupiter early, just hoping you were there so I could watch you hit and run," Gordon wrote. "When you finally arrived, I nervously walked over to you and bro, you were so nice to me. You told me you would help me in any way possible. I swear, it hit me hard. To this day, I be saying 'Yo! I play with Ichi!? How? I'm from little Avon Park!'"

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"People don't know how much you've helped me over these last five years, Ichi. We both know I've had good times, bad times, ups and downs, but your friendship has never wavered once. You always stuck by my side through anything, and always had my back. If I was wronged, you would stick up for me every time, even if it hurt you getting on the field."

"I didn't think a tweet or Instagram post was appropriate for this occasion, so I wanted to do it in the right way and tell you how much I appreciate you as loudly as possible. Without your friendship and guidance -- and if you never told me your secrets [don't worry, bro, I'll never tell!] -- there wouldn't be a batting champion named Dee Gordon."

"Love you, bro! You're a part of my life forever. I hope you enjoy retirement. You better come hit with me on off-days because I'm definitely gonna miss that - and miss having you around to lean on."

Suzuki retired with a career .311 batting average, 117 home runs, 509 stolen bases and 3,089 hits. He went 0-for-4 in his final game, a 5-4 win against the Oakland Athletics on March 21 at the Tokyo Dome.

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