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Ichiro announces retirement

TOKYO (AP) — At times, it seemed as if he’d go on hitting forever.

But on Thursday night, a player who defined baseball at its very best on two continents for a generation, took his final swing.

The great Ichiro has said “sayonara.”

Now 45, Ichiro Suzuki left the Tokyo Dome field in the eighth inning, waving goodbye to the packed crowd amid hugs from Seattle Mariners teammates in a three-minute walk that signaled to all his monumental run was over.

“I have ended my career and decided to retire,” Ichiro said, speaking in Japanese at a news conference after a 5-4 win over Oakland in 12 innings.

He said his contract was through the two games in Japan, and said he decided before arriving last week to step away.

Ichiro went 0 for 4 in his farewell. In his last at-bat, he came up with two outs, a runner on second and a tie score in the eighth. He hit a slow grounder to shortstop and, still hustling the whole way, was barely thrown out at first.