TOKYO — At times, it seemed as if he’d go on hitting forever.

But on Thursday night, a player who defined baseball at its very best on two continents for a generation, took his final swing.

The great Ichiro has said “sayonara.”

Now 45, Ichiro Suzuki left the Tokyo Dome field in the eighth inning, waving goodbye to the packed crowd amid hugs from Seattle Mariners teammates in a three-minute walk that signaled to all his monumental run was over.

“I have ended my career and decided to retire,” Ichiro said, speaking in Japanese at a news conference after a 5-4 win over Oakland in 12 innings.

He said his contract was through the two games in Japan, and said he decided before arriving last week to step away.

“After the reception I got today, how could I possibly have any regrets?” he said. “I couldn’t play well enough in spring training to earn an extension.”

Ichiro went 0 for 4 in his farewell. In his last at-bat, he came up with two outs, a runner on second and a tie score in the eighth. He hit a slow grounder to shortstop and, still hustling the whole way, was barely thrown out at first.

He took his spot in right field in the eighth, then was pulled by Manager Scott Servais and the walk into history began in front of a sellout of 45,000. He strolled in, turned and waved to the crowd with all of the usually reserved Japanese fans on their feet.

To chants of “Ichiro, Ichiro, Ichiro” he was greeted at the dugout – and later in the dugout – by emotional embraces from teammates.

The fans got one more chance to salute when he came back on the field after the game and acknowledged their ovations.

Ichiro was 0 for 5 in the two regular-season games against the A’s in Tokyo, leaving him with 3,089 hits in 19 seasons – a sure Hall of Fame resume.

He had 1,278 before that over nine years in Japan, making him baseball’s all-time hits leader.