Classic mementos donated to Hall
Ichiro's bat from tournament's first round headed to Cooperstown
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
Ichiro Suzuki poses with the World Baseball Classic trophy after Monday night's victory. (Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES -- After he retires from Major League Baseball, Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki might very well be headed to the Hall of Fame.
But for now, the right fielder is contributing to Cooperstown's collection by donating his bat from the first round of this year's World Baseball Classic.
It's a fitting donation from Ichiro, who had the game-winning hit in the 10th inning of Japan's 5-3 win over rival Korea in the Classic's championship game on Monday.
It stands as the second donation from the 35-year-old Ichiro, who also donated his batting helmet in 2006, when Japan won the inaugural Classic title.
Ichiro, however, wasn't the only player from Japan to make a donation to the Hall of Fame, as Hisashi Iwakuma, Monday's starting pitcher, donated the cap he wore during the game and the winning pitcher, 22-year-old sensation Yu Darvish, donated his cleats.
The donations are making their way to Cooperstown on Tuesday and will be added to the "Today's Game" exhibit before Opening Day.
Other artifacts donated from the 2009 Classic include the bat used by Team USA third baseman David Wright when he hit a game-winning double against Puerto Rico in the Round 2 elimination game; the cap worn by Dominican Republic starter Ubaldo Jimenez when he struck out a Classic-record 10 batters against The Netherlands; the cap worn by Netherlands pitching coach Bert Blyleven; the cap worn by Venezuelan starter Felix Hernandez, who went 2-0; the batting helmet from Venezuela's Miguel Cabrera, who batted .281 with two home runs; and a cap from Team Cuba, which saw its streak of reaching the finals of international baseball tournaments end at 50.
The offerings join several artifacts from the inaugural 2006 Classic, such as Korea's donation of Seung-Yeop Lee's bat from the semifinals and a cap worn by pitcher Jin-Young Lee.
Japan donated six items in 2006 -- a warmup jacket from pitcher Koji Uehara, spikes worn by manager Sadaharu Oh, spikes worn by relief pitcher Shunsuke Watanabe, a batting helmet worn by Ichiro, a jersey worn by Matsuzaka and a cap worn by outfielder Nobuhiko Matsunaka.