Ichiro the Hero

Ed Zurga/AP.

Ichiro Suzuki has fans on both sides of the Pacific tuning in to watch him play.

On a late Thursday evening a few weeks ago, the Seattle Mariners were bored to the point of flat-lining. Their charter had just landed at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, and everyone in the Mariners' traveling party had to slog through a tedious customs check and then claim his own luggage. As the men circled the baggage carousel, Gerald Perry, Seattle's hitting coach, began collecting $1 bills. The first guy whose luggage emerged would win the loot.

The average North American major league player salary this year is more than $2.2 million. Still, the average big league player would,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!