|Born: October 4, 1983|
Wailuku, Hawaii, U.S.
|June 12, 2007, for the Oakland Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 4, 2022, for the Los Angeles Angels|
|Runs batted in||730|
|Career highlights and awards|
Kurtis Kiyoshi Suzuki (born October 4, 1983) is an American former professional baseball catcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, and Los Angeles Angels.
Before playing professionally, Suzuki attended Cal State Fullerton, and in 2004, won the College World Series and the Johnny Bench and Brooks Wallace awards. That year, the Athletics selected him in the second round of the MLB draft, and Suzuki made his MLB debut in 2007. He was named an MLB All-Star in 2014 as a member of the Twins while hitting a career-best .288. In 2019, Suzuki caught for the Nationals as they won the World Series, making him both a College World Series and MLB World Series champion.
Suzuki was born to Warren and Kathleen Suzuki in Wailuku, Hawaii, and attended Henry Perrine Baldwin High School from which he graduated in 2001. Suzuki was mentored as a youth by Hawaiian MLB scout Walter Isamu Komatsubara. He managed a .328 batting average as a senior at Baldwin.
Suzuki attended California State University, Fullerton, where he played college baseball for the Cal State Fullerton Titans baseball team. CSUF appeared in the 2003 College World Series and captured the 2004 College World Series championship, thanks to Suzuki's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning, giving the Titans a 3–2 win over the Texas Longhorns.
That year, he won the Johnny Bench Award as the country's top collegiate catcher. He was also selected All-American by two publications, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He was also the recipient of the first-ever Brooks Wallace Award.
Draft and minor leagues
The Athletics drafted Suzuki in the second round of the 2004 Major League Baseball draft and assigned him to the Single-A Short Season Vancouver Canadians, where he batted .297 and committed just one error in 46 games.
His first full season of professional baseball came in 2005, with Single-A team the Stockton Ports. Playing in 114 games, Suzuki put up a .277 average, 12 home runs, 65 RBIs and a .440 slugging percentage.
Suzuki joined the major league club on June 9, 2007, after rarely used catcher Adam Melhuse was traded to the Texas Rangers, and made his debut three days later as a pinch hitter in a game against the Houston Astros.
For the 2008 season, Suzuki was the starting catcher while Rob Bowen served as backup. In the first 20 regular season games, Suzuki started 18. He ended the season with a .279 batting average in 148 games.
During the 2009 season, Suzuki had a career-high 15 home runs and 88 RBIs, and batted .274 in 147 games. Suzuki led the A's in RBIs, and became only the second catcher in the franchise's history to do so. He also led the team in hits (156), doubles (37) and total bases (240), and was second in home runs and runs scored behind teammate Jack Cust.
On July 23, 2010, Suzuki signed a four-year extension with the Oakland Athletics, estimated to be worth $16.25 million. At the end of the 2010 season, Suzuki ended with a .242 average with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs. The following season, he hit .237 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs.
Return to Oakland
Suzuki was named to the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, finishing up the game with his Twins battery-mate, Glen Perkins. He agreed to a two-year contract extension with the team on July 31, 2014. In his first season with Minnesota, he hit a career-high .288 with 3 home runs and 61 RBIs. The following season he hit .240 with 5 home runs and 50 RBIs. In 2016, he hit .258 with 8 home runs but had his season shortened due to injury.
On January 30, 2017, Suzuki signed a one-year contract for $1.5 million with the Atlanta Braves. He set a career high in home runs that season, hitting 19 in 276 at-bats while platooning with Tyler Flowers. On September 23, 2017, Suzuki and the Braves agreed to a one-year extension worth $3.5 million. In 2018 he batted .271/.332/.444 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs in 347 at bats.
Washington Nationals (second stint)
On November 20, 2018, the Washington Nationals announced that they had signed Suzuki to a two-year contract worth $10 million. In 2019 he batted .264/.324/.486 with 17 home runs and 63 RBIs in 280 at bats.
On October 23, 2019, Suzuki became the first Hawaii-born player to hit a home run in the World Series, doing so off of Justin Verlander in Game 2. A hip flexor strain scratched him from the remaining games of the series but the Nationals won in seven games, notching their first championship and earning Suzuki his first World Series ring.
In 2020, Suzuki allowed 28 stolen bases, tied for the NL lead.
Los Angeles Angels
On January 15, 2021, Suzuki signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. On April 20, 2021, Suzuki became the 16th catcher to record 10,000 career putouts at the position.
On March 16, 2022, Suzuki signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract to return to the Angels.
On September 20, 2022, Suzuki announced his plans to retire at season's end. His final appearance on October 4 was on his 39th birthday and against his original MLB team the Oakland Athletics
He married his wife Renee Marie Suzuki (née Vignery) in January 2007. They met at CSUF, where she was a fellow Titan who played volleyball. They have three children, a daughter born in April 2011 and sons born in November 2013 and July 2016. Suzuki took a brief paternity leave after his daughter's birth in 2011.
In 2012, Suzuki and his wife Renee founded the Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation, a charitable nonprofit dedicated to supporting scientific research into chronic illnesses and kidney diseases. He and his wife (along with Orlando and Katie Cabrera) have also helped former Titan catcher Jon Wilhite, who was severely injured in the car crash that killed Nick Adenhart.
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- Lewis, Ferd (July 29, 2010). "'Mr. Komatsubara' would have loved to see Suzuki get his due". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
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- "Kurt Suzuki". ESPN. November 5, 2017. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
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- "Washington Nationals win 2019 World Series". MLB. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
- "2020 National League Catcher". Baseball-Reference.com.
- Torres, Maria (January 15, 2021). "Angels reach agreement with veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki on a one-year contract". LA Times.
- "Maui's Kurt Suzuki hits first home run with Angels, 134th of his career in victory over Texas". Khon2. April 21, 2021. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
- Rill, Jake (March 16, 2022). "Angels bring back catcher Suzuki on 1-year deal". MLB.com. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
- Caple, Jim (April 22, 2011). "The Ichiro-Matsui relationship". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- "From Maui to the Majors | News, Sports, Jobs - Maui News". www.mauinews.com. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
- "Dukes family spreading aloha across U.S."
- "Kurt Suzuki back after birth of daughter". ESPN.com. April 29, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
- "Kurt Suzuki and Trump share a titanic moment during Nationals' White House visit". Los Angeles Times. November 4, 2019.
- Bill Shaikin (July 19, 2009). "Jon Wilhite doesn't take life for granted". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 2, 2013.