We are on the cusp of witnessing an accomplishment that will put one Major League player in some rare and amazingly prestigious baseball company.
And Ichiro Suzuki. Well, kind of.
Long time Mariner and current Yankee outfielder Ichiro stands just one measly hit away from 4,000 for his career. Cobb and Rose are currently the only two members of the 4,000-hit club.
But there will be an asterisk of sorts on Ichiro’s achievement. I don’t think it takes away from what he has been able to do as a ballplayer, it just makes his 4,000 different from his predecessors’.
Cobb and Rose did it exclusively in the Major Leagues. Ichiro notched 1,278 hits over eight seasons in Japan, and has 2,721 hits over 13 seasons in the Major Leagues.
To put things in perspective, that 2,721 number alone ties Lou Gehrig for 59th on the all-time Major League hit list.
The Yankees gave Alex Rodriguez a ridiculous $275 million contract in hopes that he would break the all-time home run record while wearing pinstripes. But it’s the quiet and modest Ichiro – acquired in a trade with Seattle last July – who is going to provide New York fans with the opportunity to observe baseball history and for the club to cash in as a result.
Ichiro entered yesterday afternoon’s game against the Blue Jays with 3,997 hits. He notched 3,998 with a double in the third inning and 3,999 with a single in the seventh. He had a chance for number 4,000 in the ninth, as the Yankee faithful stood and chanted his name, but grounded out to first base. He did not get an at-bat in the team’s double-header nightcap.
Even though it is split between Japan and the United States, 4,000 big-league hits is an amazing feat. But the way Ichiro talks about it, hit number 4,000 won’t feel much different than numbers one, 1,000 or 2,721.
“I’m excited to get a hit every time,” Ichiro said before last night’s game, the second of a double header and one he was not expected to play in. “And if my name is in that lineup tonight, I’m definitely excited to get those at bats so I can get some hits.”
“It’s not just the 4,000; it’s that you’re getting a hit in a game,” he explained. “If you don’t produce, you’re not going to play in games. Producing in games is what’s good for me. Four thousand is just as important as any other number, for me.”