Ichiro Suzuki hit his first home run as a member of the New York Yankees on Monday night. It surely made a lot of Mariners fans' smile -- including Scott McCaughey, a singer-songwriter from the Pacific Northwest who worked with R.E.M. for nearly two decades.
"I certainly wish him nothing but success, even though I was really sad to see him go," McCaughey said. "Hopefully he’ll catch fire with the Yankees."
McCaughey isn't your average Ichiro fan. He's one of the few fans who've written a song for the Japanese star, composing "Ichiro Goes to the Moon" as part of the Baseball Project back in 2008.
The Baseball Project is a four-person group started by McCaughey and R.E.M. co-founder Peter Buck in 2007. They've written and released more than 40 songs dedicated to their love of baseball, and about half of those are about individual players.
"Ichiro Goes to the Moon" has special meaning for McCaughey, though, as he lived in Seattle for 25 years and is a rabid Mariners fan.
"He’s been such a great player to watch over the years, and he’s really an inspiring guy with his work ethic and style," McCaughey says. "He’s pretty much unlike any other player who’s ever played in the Majors.
"I think a lot of people in Seattle are pretty sad about it, but I also think people, in a way, saw it coming. There wasn't much point in him sticking around for rebuilding at this point in his career."
The song features some interesting lyrics, some not so realistic but all flattering to Ichiro: "For those who haven't worshiped yet, most succumb to bowing soon. There'll be nothing left to prove, when Ichiro goes, Ichiro goes to the Moon."
McCaughey has had discussions with Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, who recorded a song about Ichiro several years ago but just released it last week, about teaming up to release both of their Ichiro songs as part of a single. That still might happen eventually.
For now, McCaughey finds himself torn about the Yankees, a team he normally roots against.
"I wish Ichiro the best," McCaughey says. "And if it takes the Yankees winning the pennant for him to get a ring, I'll be happy."