Ichiro Fans In Japan Scramble For Yankees Gear

Jul 26, 2012
Originally published on July 26, 2012 9:35 am
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Ichiro Suzuki's trade to the New York Yankees has thrilled Japanese fans, but they're not the only ones cheering. Importers of Major League goods are also happy.

Lucy Craft stopped at a store in Tokyo to check out the merchandise.

LUCY CRAFT, BYLINE: When news reached Japan that Ichiro had been acquired by the Yankees, Satoshi Kanazawa, manager of the Selection Baseball store, sprang into action.

SATOSHI KANAZAWA: (Foreign language spoken)

CRAFT: We set up this special Ichiro display yesterday, he says, right after we opened. Demand has been tremendous.

Right in the center of the shop is the hastily-assembled Ichiro corner: uniforms, hats, clocks with his likeness, bobble-head Ichiro figurines - most his Mariners merchandise, but they already have his new Yankees windbreaker. Items like his old Number 51 Mariners uniform, which retails for about $400, are almost sold out.

Among the rabid fans is Tokyo resident Kintaro Hoshino. Over Ichiro's 11-year career with the Seattle team, Hoshino has assembled a pile of Mariners memorabilia. And he's got his wallet out again, all ready to start a fresh trove of Ichiro keepsakes from the Yankees.

KINTARO HOSHINO: (Foreign language spoken)

CRAFT: Ichiro is a superstar, he says. I've been a fan for a long time.

The store has 100 orders for Ichiro's new Yankees uniform, Number 31, even though the goods may not arrive for months. Now importers are looking forward to the next sales boost, a World Series win for Ichiro and the Yankees.

For NPR News, this is Lucy Craft, in Tokyo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.