08/03/11 2:47 AM ET
Fake Ichiro unwittingly gets in the action
By Taylor Soper / MLB.com
He had it all: the No. 51 jersey, the baseball pants tucked perfectly into his socks at the knee, the slightly bent bill on his Mariners hat, the Asics shoes, the light black beard and even Ichiro's signature black bat.
And during Tuesday's 4-2 Mariners win, the imposter even saw some action during the game, but all for the wrong reasons.
Seattle second baseman Dustin Ackley lined a sharp grounder down the first-base line in the bottom of the third inning, and the ball trickled along the front row of fans down the foul line.
Had the ball been left untouched, Ackley had a potential triple. But the Ichiro look-a-like, much to the dismay of the home crowd, reached down and snagged the ball himself.
"I saw the replay of it when the guy picked it up," Ackley said. "I knew the players were getting close to it, but I had no idea the guy was going to grab it. It helped out on my part."
The wacky moment ended up being a good thing for Ackley and the Mariners. After discussion, the umpires credited Ackley with a triple instead of a ground-rule double. Just afterward, the fake Ichiro was temporarily removed from his front-row seat. He was spoken to by Safeco Field ushers and security before he was allowed to return to his seat.
Manager Eric Wedge said he didn't notice the Ichiro imposter, but agreed with the umpires' decision to give a triple Ackley, who was left stranded at third.
"I know the fans were getting on [the fake Ichiro] pretty good, because it looked like Dustin was going to get to third base," Wedge said. "But ultimately, I think that he redeemed himself when the umpire awarded him third base. That's a judgment call. I think he would have got to third base, and that's what he thought, too."
Taylor Soper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.