Ichiro gets career hit No. 4,257 (1,278 of which came in Japan); hit king Rose had 4,256 in MLB
By Joe Frisaro
SAN DIEGO -- Ichiro Suzuki entered uncharted territory on Wednesday with a double in the ninth inning of the Marlins' 6-3 loss at Petco Park. With a 2-for-5 day, the 42-year-old outfielder now has 4,257 career hits -- 1,278 in Japan and 2,979 in Major League Baseball. Pete Rose, MLB's Hit King, finished his career with 4,256 hits in the Majors.
Leading off against the Padres, Ichiro legged out an infield single that gave him a piece of combined history. And in the ninth, he delivered a sharp double to right. At 2,979 MLB hits, Ichiro is 21 away from 3,000.
"I don't think you can compare," Ichiro said through his interpreter. "Obviously, it's a combined record. So I always just say, 'What people think about that record, if they recognize it, I'll be happy.' But obviously, 3,000, it's a no-doubter. Obviously, it's a record here. So that is a goal I want to achieve."
Two pitches into the game, Ichiro tapped a soft roller on right-hander Luis Perdomo's 93-mph fastball. After he reached safely, the players and fans at Petco Park showed their appreciation with a nice round of applause. He got another ovation when he reached 4,257 in the ninth with his double off Fernando Rodney.
"The hit to tie was just a five-footer," Ichiro said. "I was just hoping I'd be able to get a clean hit. I was relieved it was a good hit. It wasn't like, 'Yes, I did it.' It was more of a relief that I was able to get a clean hit."
Immediately after the game, Ichiro was embraced in the dugout by his teammates. Both benchmark hit baseballs were retrieved as mementos for Ichiro, who said he has yet to hear from the Hall of Fame.
"Obviously, Ich is a guy who is a really special player," manager Don Mattingly said. "You love to see him get this and keep marching and keep moving towards 3,000. To me, it says a lot about him -- how he prepares, how he is ready to play every day. There is longevity, love for the game, the whole thing. It was fun to be able to be here and see this."
A former American League Rookie of the Year, AL MVP Award winner and 10-time AL All-Star, Ichiro made it clear he never prioritized combining his Japanese numbers with his big league marks.
"This wasn't a goal of mine to get to this point," Ichiro said. "Obviously, I've heard Pete's comments, and he wasn't really happy about what they were saying about this record or whatnot. To be honest, this wasn't something I was making a goal. It was just kind of a weird situation to be in, just because of the combined. It was a tough one. It wasn't really something I've thought about."
Ichiro spent nine seasons playing in Japan for the Orix Blue Wave of Nippon Professional Baseball before joining the Mariners in 2001. Rose amassed his record over a 24-year career that spanned from 1963-86.
"The Marlins are extremely honored to be a part of Ichiro's career, watching him prepare every day, to play and to win," Marlins president David Samson said in a statement. "If you could have 25 Ichiros, you would have 25 World Series rings. He is a true humble professional who works as hard when he's 0-for-5 as when he's 5-for-5. That skill cannot be taught. In a world where sports athletes are rarely role models, Ichiro is a true role model off and on the field."
MLB does not recognize combined stats, so Ichiro isn't revising league numbers. He is closing in on Sam Rice (2,985) for 30th place on the Majors' all-time hits list.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.