A lot of fun stories have emerged about Ichiro since the Seattle Mariners announced last week that the 10-time All-Star would step away from the field and transition to a front-office role, but none has been better than the one Peter Gammons slipped into his column for The Athletic on Wednesday.
One morning in spring training, 2017, he was in the coaches’ room looking at his cell phone text messages. Ichiro told the coaches about one message he had just received from a number he didn’t recognize. The guy said he’d gotten Ichiro’s number from Alex Rodriguez, and that he wanted to come meet him and study his stretching system.
“What’s the guy’s name?” asked one of the coaches.
Ichiro strolled to the end of the text. “Some guy named Tom Brady. Who the f— is Tom Brady?”
Who the fuck is Tom Brady? Amazing.
The incredible thing about this story (relayed by Marlins manager Don Mattingly) isn’t just that Ichiro, a Japanese man who is presumably not a huge fan of American football, is unfamiliar with Tom Brady’s work but also that Brady solicited advice from Ichiro, only to be more or less shrugged off. Imagine you’re Tom Brady, confidently sending that text to Ichiro, maybe imagining the outfielder’s awed reaction to the message — not realizing that he doesn’t give a crap about you.
Brady gets a lot of applause for playing at a high level until age 40, but given that Ichiro made it to age 44 before calling it quits, the Patriots’ quarterback still has some catching up to do. It’s unclear whether the two ever got together for that stretching session, but Tom could probably use it.