Last night was Ichiro’s first game back at Safeco Field since last July, shortly after the Mariners traded him to the Yankees. Before the game, the stadium PA played John Sebastian’s “Welcome Back” (the Welcome Back Kotter theme), though his return didn’t seem to generate much enthusiasm — the attendance was a typically measly 18,776.
Also before the game, he spoke to the press through his interpreter Allen Turner: “I was here 12 years, but I didn’t realize how many Starbucks there were here in Seattle… It just really feels weird. Obviously, I know this place really well and I’m really close to it, but at the same time, I just kind of feel distant, a little bit. It just feels a little weird to be here.”
“In 2001, when I first came over, I think anybody that would have said that I’d be here 12 years probably wouldn’t have believed it… I don’t think I would have said that at that time. So it’s really difficult to plan out what your future holds. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. But what I can do now, what I can prepare myself to do now, for the future, is what I can control. I want to do that and see what the future holds.”
Read more about Ichiro’s return in this New York Times article.