SEATTLE -- The so-called "Ichimeter Lady" said she almost passed out on the spot when she opened a handwritten note from Ichiro Tuesday, thanking her for being a loyal fan.
"I was stunned. I just couldn't believe it," said Amy Franz, who became an internet sensation in 2004 holding the "Ichimeter" at Mariner games. The sign tracked Ichiro's hits as he eventually matched, then broke George Sisler's record of 257 hits in a single season. That sign, bearing the number 262, is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Along with the note, Ichiro sent a pair of autographed custom cleats he had worn in a game, and an autographed "Ichiro 51" bat he had used in a game. Since 2004, Franz has continued to track Ichiro's hits every season.
"I sit in the first row, right field. I can yell pretty loud. Sometimes at less attended games, I can actually hear myself echo," says Franz. "I'd tell him sugoi which means amazing in Japanese."
When the Mariners opened the 2012 season in Tokyo, Franz and her husband were there, in right field, cheering Ichiro on and waving the Ichimeter. She said she even signed autographs at the Tokyo Dome for Japanese fans who followed her on Twitter.
"Once, I told him 'Ichiro wa kami desu' which means Ichiro is a god and he gave me a little smirk. It gets the fans going, especially the ones around me who are from Japan," said Franz.
Franz says she appreciates the gesture because she really puts her heart into her cheering. "It's so amazing that he cared."