Ichiro Suzuki brought seven consecutive Japanese batting titles and seven straight Gold Glove awards with him to the majors. But when baseball folks looked at the short, skinny outfielder in the Mariners' camp in 2001, many predicted he'd have a tough adjustment to big-league life and perhaps never be more than a serviceable outfielder.

But Suzuki — really, just call him "Ichiro," like it says on the back of his jersey — became a star after joining Seattle at age 27. He slapped at pitches in the dirt, in and out of the strike zone, running toward first before his swing is even finished. Ichiro — who went 1-for-4 with a stolen base in his new team's 4-1 win over his old one on Monday night — used his remarkable speed and ability to make contact to squash all those bleak forecasts and eventually become an all-time great, a future Hall of Famer who broke George Sisler's single-season hits record and got to 1,000 hits faster than anyone.

"I'm unique," he once told Sports Illustrated. "I'm a very rare kind of player."