International baseball legend says there’ll be time to be honored at the end of his life.

At the end of last month Ichiro Suzuki retired from Major League Baseball at the age of 44, making him the second-oldest active MLB player by only a few months. It was clearly a move made with a heavy heart for one of the greatest players to have ever graced the field, as he had frequently stated his intentions to keep playing throughout his 40s.

However, as Ichiro thought about his next move in life, he received a delightful surprise in the form of an offer to receive the People’s Honor Award, a commendation given directly by the Prime Minister to celebrate excellence in sports and arts.

As an added distinction, this tribute would be the first of the upcoming Reiwa Era. It’s especially fitting as Ichiro’s professional career was almost perfectly aligned with the entire Heisei Era that ran from 1989 to 2019 (Ichiro lasted from 1992 to 2019).

While most people would probably jump at such an opportunity, it’s been reported that Ichiro has declined the award. Not only that, this will be the third time he has turned it down; the previous two attempts having been in 2001 and 2004 by then-PM Junichiro Koizumi.

▼ He was the one that, in the right light, kind of looks like Richard Gere.

When turning down the first two awards, Ichrio said, “When my baseball career is finished, if you would still be so kind, I would greatly appreciate it.” It’s pretty hard to turn down a personal award by your head of state without coming across as a little arrogant, but Ichiro pulled it off, showing once again he’s not just a master of the bat and ball, but of the social graces too.

Fans were adamantly behind Ichiro in this decision.

“I sense a pattern here.”
“He already has the people’s honor, he doesn’t need an award to show that.”
“I can understand not wanting politicians to glom on to your name and achievements.”
“That’s a little sad, but I’d still love to be in Ichiro’s shoes.”
“This is just the Abe administration trying to make themselves look good.”
“He said the end of his ‘baseball career,’ not the end of his ‘playing career.'”

That last comment was probably on the right track, as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters a message that a rep for Ichiro relayed to them; “I would be humbled to receive it towards the end of my life.” This would suggest that rather than ride off into the sunset, Ichiro is still looking to be very active in some way from now on.

As for the theories that he is taking a political stance by not accepting the awards, it’s possible but seems unlikely. It’s not like a significant number of people would look at Shinzo Abe after this and say, “Well, on one hand he raised sales taxes considerably, is woefully underprepared for an alien attack, and is a total poser when it comes to metal…buuuuut he did give Ichiro that medal one time so he’s got my vote locked down!”

Let’s face it, no politician can ever recover once they’re branded as a poser.

Source:, Mainichi Shimbun, My Game News Flash
Top image: SoraNews24
Insert image: Wikipedia/Eric Draper