Ichiro visits Sisler's grave

Updated: July 15, 2009, 3:06 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

During an All-Star Weekend when history is made and honored, Ichiro Suzuki paid respects to a man whose achievements are linked with his own.

Ichiro, in St. Louis for his ninth All-Star Game, visited the grave of St. Louis Browns star George Sisler, whose single-season record of 257 hits was broken by the Mariners outfielder in October 2004.

Sisler's descendants -- including Sisler's 81-year-old daughter, Frances Sisler Drochelman -- had traveled to Seattle to witness Ichiro break the record that was set in 1920, and last weekend, Ichiro returned the gesture.

"I wanted to do that for a grand upperclassman of the baseball world," Ichiro told MLB.com. "I think it's only natural for someone to want to do that, to express my feelings in that way."

Ichiro, accompanied by his wife, Yumiko, and some friends, laid flowers at Sisler's grave, at Des Peres Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Sisler, a Hall of Famer, died on March 26, 1973. His career was marked by a lifetime .340 batting average, and a .407 average in 1920. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939.

"There's not many chances to come to St. Louis," Ichiro said, according to the Seattle Times. "In 2004, it was the first time I crossed paths with him, and his family generously came all the way to Seattle."

Another All-Star Game might be old hat to Ichiro, who was the MVP of the 2007 game and has won a Gold Glove in each season since entering the major leagues out of Japan in 2001.

But this time, Ichiro got to meet President Barack Obama, who threw out the first pitch. Obama, visiting the clubhouses, stopped and signed a ball for Ichiro, who gave a slight bow upon meeting the President and appeared as giddy and excited as a kid.

"My idea, when I saw him, was to say, 'What's up?' to him," Ichiro said. "But I got nervous. You know, he has that kind of aura about him. So I got nervous and I didn't say that to him. I was a little disappointed about that.

"But I realized after seeing him today that presidents wear jeans, too. So my hope is that our skipper, [Don] Wakamatsu, was watching that and we can wear jeans on our flights, as well."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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