Ichiro's Japanese career started back when I was in high school. And while I was in college and not paying attention, he snuck across the Pacific Ocean and made a big splash in Seattle.
Ichiro spent nine seasons in Japan, all with the Blue Wave, before coming to Japan in 2001. In Japan, he batted .353, with 1278 hits, 118 home runs, 529 RBI, and 199 stolen bases. His MLB batting average, over about 18 seasons, was .311, with 3089 hits, 117 home runs, 780 RBI, and 509 stolen bases.
With the NPB, he was a seven-time All Star, in the US, ten times. He won the Pacific League MVP three times, and won the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in 2001. He won seven Golden Glove awards here in Japan, ten in the US.
He holds the following MLB records: 262 hits in a single season, 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons, most hits by a Japanese-born player, most hits in interleague play, and most hits in a season by a rookie.
As a side note, we could also discuss Sadaharu Oh and Josh Gibson as major league home run kings at this point. But we won't.
He had great speed. His 509 stolen bases ties him for 35th all time. Tack on 199 more from the NPB, and he's at number 11. He had a great arm and his Golden Glove awards in both leagues attest to his prowess in the field.
Ichiro didn't just play well, though. He really opened the door to Japanese players, and showed that you don't have to hit home runs to be a star. I can't wait to find the next Ichiro, if there is one.