Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki doesn’t have to try all that hard to break records these days. On Sunday, he managed to do it before the first out of the game was recorded. When he took the field in the top of the first, Suzuki became the oldest player ever to start a game in centerfield.
At 43 years and 246 days old, Suzuki is the new record-holder. He beat out Rickey Henderson, who last started in center field as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2002. Henderson was 43 years and 211 days old for that start, according to MLB.com.
If Suzuki has his way, he’ll break plenty of age-related records before he retires. The outfielder has expressed a desire to continue playing in the majors until he’s 50.
Of course, getting to that point could be a challenge. Suzuki has seen his playing time reduced the past couple years. While he had a decent bounce back year in 2016, Suzuki has seen his slash line drop to .200/.232/.284 this season.
Still, let’s attempt to be optimistic. If Suzuki makes it to 50, he would be the fourth-oldest position player to ever appear in a major-league game. He would still require eight more years to reach record-holder Charley O’Leary, who received one plate appearance with the St. Louis Browns at age-58 in 1934.
If you include pitchers, the record jumps up one year. At 59, Satchel Paige pitched three innings for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965. He is the oldest player to ever take the field in a major-league game.
In both cases, O’Leary and Paige were out of the majors for quite some time before making their brief comebacks. Suzuki may have to try something similar unless he can get his bat going again.
For now, he’ll have to settle for setting a record every time he gets a start in center. That hasn’t happened a lot lately, but Suzuki is good for a few appearances at the position each year. You have to go back to 2011 to find the last season Suzuki didn’t receive a start in center.
There’s a chance he’ll extend the record if he gets another start in center this year. But with his contract up, and his numbers declining, owning the record at age-44 could prove to be a challenge.
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