Ichiro Suzuki may be out of a Major League Baseball gig, but perhaps he can take solace in a wasp recently named in his honor.
A paper published on Thursday in ZooKeys highlights 10 newly named wasps, four of which are from Florida. Jose Fernandez-Triana, a Cuban-born entomologist and researcher at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, chose to bestow one of those wasps with the honor of being named after the true hit king.
The newly crowned Diolcogaster ichiroi had been sitting in relative anonymity in the Canadian National Collection of Insects, which contains over 17 million specimens. The specimen was collected about 30 miles from Lake Okeechobee and 145 miles from Marlins Park where last Ichiro played until being unceremoniously ditched by Derek Jeter’s dubious new management regime in November.
To that end, the paper contains a pretty sick burn about how not picking up the true hit king’s contract option was a bad choice:
At the time the research for this paper was being conducted, Ichiro was still playing for a Florida team and thus naming a species endemic from Florida after him made complete sense. Unfortunately, the new owners of the Miami Marlins did not keep Ichiro, an unpopular decision not liked by many Marlins fans.
Fernandez-Triana told Earther that as a baseball fan, he wishes Ichiro could’ve stuck with the Marlins. Yes, the true hit king has lost a step, but he’s still a fun player that has a strong following, including folks with rooting interests in other teams (Ichiro Red Sox fan here).
As of this writing, Ichiro remained unsigned by a Major League team and is considering playing in Japan.
Names aside, the wasp itself is fascinating. The species named after Ichiro as well as another named after Miami are part of a group of species that were though to almost exclusively live in tropical areas of Asia, Africa, and Australia.
“Thus, the finding of those species in the New World is significant,” he said. “The species named after Ichiro and Miami both expand our knowledge of that group of species, by extending their known distribution into North America.”
The other eight species of wasps similarly expand our knowledge of wasps. One of them was found living near 14,000 feet in Colorado, the highest wasp ever found. Others have weird morphology that can’t fully be explained. That means there are still questions out there to be answered and discoveries to be made once the novelty of the name fades. And the wasps in the new study are just a tiny fraction of the thousands of unnamed and undiscovered bugs out there. Fernandez-Triana said there are 3,000 undescribed species of wasps in the family he studies at the Canadian National Collection of Insects alone (though it should be noted this is smaller than Ichiro’s 4,358 hits playing professional baseball). There are countless other discoveries waiting to be made.
“They bring our attention to many more questions that we still cannot answer, and they ideally would encourage us to study more to learn more about those species (and others),” Fernandez-Triana wrote in an email. “Naming a species after Ichiro was just a personal decision, but the science beyond the work goes much further than that.”