- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

SEATTLE Ichiro Suzuki had so much fun dressing up like a waitress for a cross-country flight last year, he wore the skimpy outfit home to greet his wife.
"I didn't feel strange," the Seattle Mariners star said. "I parked at my apartment, and fortunately nobody saw me."
As part of a rookie initiation ritual, Suzuki and fellow rookies Ryan Franklin and Joel Pineiro had to pull on a chain restaurant's signature tight white tank tops and tiny orange shorts, their baseball sliding shorts underneath, to wear from Baltimore back to Seattle.
Everyone seems to be doing it.
"You come in after the game and they've got all your clothes somewhere else, and all that's there is a dress," said Minnesota Twins outfielder Dustan Mohr, who probably will have to wear a dress again this year since he's officially still a rookie.
"You have to go through the lobby of the hotel, and before that there are fans hunting for autographs after the game. There I am, walking out in the street in a black leotard."
When he was a rookie, Oakland pitcher Barry Zito wore a wedding dress from Tampa, Fla., to Baltimore. Joining him were Adam Piatt in a ballerina's tutu, Terrence Long in a bright jester suit, Eric Byrnes in a miniskirt and former teammate Todd Belitz, now with Colorado, in a costume of the Disney character "Pocahontas."
Mariners pitcher Norm Charlton, who started his big-league career with Cincinnati in 1988, had to paint the team colors on a horse that's part of the Philip H. Sheridan statue in downtown Chicago.
"There are always people, and there's always traffic," he said. "You've got to worry about police catching you, too."
Twins closer Eddie Guardado, the team's player with the longest tenure, started the annual practice of initiating the rookies in Minnesota. One year, they all had to wear red tennis shoes and eventually it evolved to wearing dresses.
Guardado looked up slowly from his seat in the Twins' clubhouse and flashed a mischievous grin when asked if he's the ringleader.
"Yeah, you could say that," he said. "I try to get things together, try to keep that tradition going. We just try to have fun, keep things loose. Hopefully, we can make it even more special this year."
He finds the women's clothing at places like Salvation Army stores.
"We got Jason Maxwell in a full leopard-skin suit one year," Guardado said.
"That was hilarious," pitcher Matt Kinney said.
"Hey, what are you laughing at? You're still on the list," Guardado reminded Kinney.
While meant in fun, clubhouse hazing isn't always appreciated.
Some players, such as Athletics second baseman Randy Velarde, disagree with rookie rituals. Three veterans took him to a bar in his first season, watching him do 10 tequila shots while they took shots of water without his knowledge.
"I'm pretty much out of it, and the next day we have a day game," he said. "And, of course, I'm playing and I'm not feeling very good, and they're feeling very good and, to my amazement, I didn't find out until later on that's what they had done to me."
Mariners manager Lou Piniella said he never was hazed in his first season in the majors, noting Kansas City was an expansion team then, so most of the team was made up of rookies.
"I think it's a little bit demeaning myself," Piniella said. "I know if I were a rookie I wouldn't like it. I feel bad seeing these kids come on the airplanes with the different outfits they have on."
AP writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.


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