Ichiro Suzuki retires, capping illustrious MLB career with emotional farewell

    Ichiro Suzuki batting in the second inning on Thursday.

    (CNN)Ichiro Suzuki has played his final MLB game -- and his goodbye came in the country where the Japanese icon's professional baseball career began.

    As Thursday's game between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics headed to the bottom of the eighth inning tied at 4, Ichiro departed in an emotional farewell in a packed Tokyo Dome.
    "I didn't think that I would be in this place and be able to finish the way it happened, so (there is) just happiness," Ichiro said to reporters through a translator. "Just really happy."
      He made his exit from right field to a roaring ovation and received hugs from his teammates and coaches. The tribute to the all-time great lasted a few minutes, culminating with Ichiro tipping his cap and waving to the crowd. He received a hug from another Mariners legend, Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. Then he took a deep breath, scooped up his bats, glove and helmet and went to the team's clubhouse.
      "For me, it doesn't get better than tonight," Ichiro said. "Nothing can top what happened tonight for me."
      There was still the rest of a game to play, but his career was done. Ichiro has retired after 19 MLB seasons at the age of 45. It's all but assured he will be honored one day in Cooperstown, New York, the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
      Despite not getting a hit in the two-game series against Oakland, fans savored his presence. They mobbed him for autographs before the game. During it, they gave him massive ovations for each of his