Wow, something I didn’t know about Mac Suzuki from BR’s Bullpen:
Mac Suzuki was expelled from high school in the 11th grade for fighting. Suzuki’s father contacted Don Nomura, owner of the Salinas Spurs, as Nomura had previously expressed an interest in Suzuki at a baseball clinic run by Tony Gwynn and Katsuya Nomura. Suzuki became the Spurs’ clubhouse boy. Among his tasks were concessions, batting practice pitching and janitorial work. Mac pitched one inning for Salinas in 1992.
Nomura sold Salinas, ending his ownership career, and signed Suzuki as the first of many star clients to begin his time as an agent. With the 17/18-year old Suzuki throwing 95 mph, he became a hot property for the team, now called the San Bernardino Spirit. He went 4-4 with 12 saves and a 3.68 ERA, striking out 87 and allowing 59 hits in 81 innings. He did walk 56 batters but was voted the 6th-best prospect in the California League by managers there.
I don’t remember hearing any of that when Suzuki was a hot prospect for the Mariners back in the day. I do remember the big hoopla about him possibly being the first Japanese-born pitcher to pitch in the majors since the 60s. It’s kind of hard to think in those terms, the pre-Ichiro days, but there was a lot of excitement around the idea. I lost interest in the game during the years when Suzuki struggled, and I didn’t know it had taken him until 1999 to finally stick for a bit, at the age of 24. And he was pretty awful, offering a combined 74 ERA+ that year. Ick. He lasted in the majors until 2002 with a career ERA+ of 86. He never lived up to that potential, sadly. Weird to think he was once ranked just behind ARod as Seattle’s top prospect.
As for the card itself, well, his name was “Makoto”, not “Makato”. I like the shot, but it’s ruined by the whole Action Packed gimmick, unfortunately. Alas, it was the only Mac Suzuki card I had.