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Ichiro played his final Major League game in Tokyo a bunch of hours ago.

Great hitter. Like, great, great hitter. Equally amazing outfield arm. Special player.

Back when I was at Sports Illustrated, Ichiro was tearing up the Majors as a rookie. I was assigned to profile the man for my first cover story, and it was hard. He spoke no English, seemed fairly guarded, used a translator who would take this: “私はあなたの妻に会えてとてもうれしいです、しかしなぜ彼女は洗濯機の中で大きいように見えますか?そして、木々が嘔吐物とスパゲッティの香りがするホテルで、Whitney Houstonの曲を一晩中歌いながら、私とJay Buhnerが裸で踊った時間についてお話ししましたか。オーケー、ディック” …

And tell me this …

“Ichiro says he’s very happy.”

There were two things I remember, however, that were gold.

• Ichiro’s teammates nicknamed him “Itchy Balls.” Which they found uproarious.

• I interviewed Lou Piniella while he was taking a piss, eating a hoagie and smoking a cigarette. Simultaneously.

They can’t take that away from me.