Ichiro Suzuki may have gotten 1,278 of his career hits in nine seasons with Orix of Japan’s Pacific League, but any player that can accumulate 4,000 hits over a career is a certified hitting machine.
When the 39-year old Yankees outfielder banged a “typical” line drive, infield single off Toronto knuckleballer RA Dickey in Wednesday night’s game, Ichiro joined one of the most prestigious and exclusive clubs in baseball.
His 4,000 career hits puts Ichiro behind Ty Cobb (4,191) and Pete Rose (4,256) as the only three players in baseball history to bag 4,000 hits. In the process, Suzuki also broke a tie with Lou Gehrig by getting his 2,722nd major league hit in just 13 seasons.
“You never want to be the guy that gives up the milestone,'' Dickey told web.yesnetwork.com. ''That being said, what an incredible achievement. The manner that he's done it is equally impressive. Just the longevity, the endurance, the durability. Having played with him in Seattle, it couldn't have happened to a more professional hitter.''
With baseball milestones being sullied by PED allegations and a generation of fans and media unclear about which stats are clean and which ones are enhanced, Suzuki’s pure skill was celebrated by the Yankees Stadium fans and both teams.
Cats flooded out of the dugout and surrounded him at first base, before Curtis Granderson embraced him. Playing in an era where the long-ball was king, Suzuki shattered hitting records by being a masterful all-fields slap-hitter hitter like Tony Gwynn or Rod Carew. Power wasn’t his thing. Patience, precision and prolific seasons with the bat and glove defined him.
As the first Japanese-born position player to grace an MLB diamond, he is a Jackie Robinson of sorts. When he got his shot with Seattle in 2000, Ichiro was better than advertised, eventually compiling an MLB single-season record for hits with 262, and blossoming into the international superstar he is today, compiling 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons, the longest streak by any player.