As compared to their American counterparts, there isn’t a long list of people of Japanese descent who have gotten a chance to live their dream of becoming professional baseball players and play at the highest level of the game. One of the few to have managed this feat is Kurt Suzuki, a baseball catcher who has been playing in the Major Leagues since 2007, representing teams like the Oakland Athletics (2007–2012, 2013) Washington Nationals (2012–2013, 2019-present), Minnesota Twins (2014–2016), and Atlanta Braves (2017–2018).
Suzuki was originally drafted in 2004 but had to play in the minor leagues for two seasons and a fraction. Before then, he had made a name for himself as a college baseball player at California State University, Fullerton. With the Cal State Fullerton Titans baseball team, Suzuki won the 2004 College World Series championship. His performance with the team went a long way in helping secure the Brooks Wallace Award and the Johnny Bench Award as the top catcher in American college baseball. He was further named an All-American by two publications; Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.
The Truth About Kurt Suzuki’s Ancestry
Kurt Suzuki’s ancestry has been a subject of much controversy among his fans and the general public. While his name and a considerable bit of his features suggest that he is Japanese, his first name ‘Kurtis’, as well as his intonation and demeanor, seem to suggest otherwise. So, here is the truth about his lineage.
Suzuki’s full legal name is Kurtis Kiyoshi Suzuki and his birth date is October 4, 1983. He was born to a third-generation Japanese couple named Warren and Kathleen Suzuki who are natives of Wailuku, Hawaii. Currently, both Kurt and his entire family reside in the United States where they are full citizens.
This means that the athlete has been an American all his life even if he has Japanese blood flowing in his veins. He is a fourth-generation Japanese American who thinks, talks and behaves like any other American.
What We Know About the Athlete’s Wife and Family
Kurt Suzuki is a happily married man. He and his wife Renee Marie Suzuki (nee Vignery) appear to be very much compatible together and this is a result of the interests they share. For instance, both of them met for the first time as students at California State University, Fullerton where they were both college athletes. Renee played volleyball while Kurt got busy with baseball.
The pair got married in January 2007, a few months before Suzuki made his major league debut in June that same year. Together, the couple has welcomed three children to the world; a daughter named Malia Grace and two sons named Kai and Elijah. Born in April 2011, Malia Grace is their first child while their second, Kai, was born some two years later on November 4, 2013. The last of the Suzuki children is Elijah who arrived three years after Kai in July 2016.
Apart from sports and kids, another profound interest Kurt shares with Renee is philanthropy. We know this because together they launched a nonprofit organization known as the Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation in 2012. The outfit is focused on supporting scientific research geared towards developing cures for chronic illnesses and kidney diseases.
A Breakdown of His Career and Earnings Over the Years
Kurt Suzuki made his Major League Baseball debut with Oakland Athletics in June 2007 after the team had originally drafted him in the second round of the 2004 MLB Draft. In July 2010, after having previously put pen to paper on small money yearly contracts, Suzuki signed his first big-money deal when he agreed to a four-year contract worth $16.25 million.
Two years after this deal, the Athletics traded the catcher to the Washington Nationals. He spent almost exactly a year with the team before returning to the Athletics in August 2013. His second stint with the team that selected him in the MLB draft lasted for just a few months before he moved to join the Minnesota Twins in December 2013. He signed a one-year deal worth $2.75 million.
As a member of the Twins, Kurt Suzuki made his first MLB All-Star game appearance in 2014. This, among other notable performances by the athlete, propelled the team to offer him a two-year contract extension worth $12 million.
At the expiration of the deal with Minnesota, Suzuki signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with the Atlanta Braves in January 2017. A few months later in September 2017, he signed a $3.5 million one-year contract extension to stay with the Braves for another year.
In late 2018, the Washington Nationals announced that Suzuki was returning for a second stint with the team. He agreed to do so for a two-year deal worth $10 million after having turned down an offer of extension from the Braves. This means that the Hawaii-native was being paid $5 million a year to play for the Nationals who went on to win their first championship in franchise history in 2019.