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Ichiro's 'Star Wars' assist introduces a new superstar, and four other throws that made MLB history

MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

There might be no better example of a difference between perception and reality than Ichiro Suzuki's initial days in the big leagues.

When he arrived in Arizona for his first spring training in 2001, the first impressions he generated were less than ideal. Ichiro's swing was so unconventional, with his body seemingly drifting toward first base as he brought the ball through the strike zone, and for someone who carried a lot of advance notice as an elite hitter, some of the scouts who saw him in his first exhibitions felt he made a lot of soft contact.

Mariners manager Lou Piniella knew a lot about hitting, and yet he famously wondered about Ichiro's impact -- but Piniella was hardly alone in rendering that sort of early assessment. I recall scouts raising similar questions over the phone, because Ichiro just didn't look like other players. He was smaller than big leaguers, he had that funky swing.

But Ichiro had 12 hits in his first seven games in the big leagues, allaying some of the criticism, and in his eighth game, on April 11, he made a play that seemed to get the attention of everyone in baseball.