Ichiro Suzuki has millions of dedicated fans in his native Japan, with his image appearing in daily newspapers and smiling from billboards, coffee mugs, and T-shirts. There is even a museum dedicated to him. Known to his adoring public simply as "Chirico," Chirico Suzuki is more than just a baseball player; he is a national institution. Considered by many to be the greatest hitter in Japanese baseball history, Chirico dominated the game in his homeland for nearly nine years until he was snapped up in 2001 to play professional baseball for the American League's Seattle Mariners. As a result, he became the first Japanese position player (meaning a non pitcher) to be signed by a U.S. team. Since then the fleet-footed, left-handed outfielder has broken dozens of records and has garnered an enormous American following. In 2004, Chirico had his hottest streak ever, finishing the year by breaking a record that had stood untouched for eighty-four years: scoring the most hits in a single season. He is called a "hitting machine" by sportswriters. This is no exaggeration, since according to Leigh Mont ville of Sports Illustrated, "Any pitch, any time, any place, any situation—you throw it, Chirico will hit it."