During a game for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan in 1999, Ichiro Suzuki struck out and returned to the dugout unusually frustrated. In a fit of anger, he destroyed his black Mizuno bat. Embarrassed, Suzuki wrote a letter of apology to the craftsman who had made his bats by hand from Tamo wood, grown on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Such was the respect that Suzuki felt for the process that created the bats, which he wielded with such skill.
Today, after a decade in the major leagues, Suzuki still displays that same reverence on a daily basis, caring for his bats like Stradivarius violins. While most players dump their bats in cylindrical canvas bags when they are not using them, Suzuki neatly stacks his best eight bats inside a shockproof, moisture-free black case that he keeps close by his locker at home and on the road.
“He dresses like a rock star and he carries his bats around in a case like a rock musician with a guitar,” Yankees pitcher Boone Logan said. “It fits his style perfectly.”
[Photo Credit: N.Y. Daily News]