SAN DIEGO -- No matter the level or league, achieving 4,257 professional hits anywhere is reason to celebrate. The players and crowd of 20,037 at Petco Park did just that on Wednesday afternoon, when Ichiro Suzuki collected two hits in the Marlins' 6-3 loss to the Padres.
Ichiro singled in the first inning and doubled in the ninth to reach 4,257 total hits. That includes his 1,278 hits in nine seasons with the Orix Blue Wave of Nippon Professional Baseball and his 2,979 hits in 16 big league seasons. Pete Rose, MLB's Hits King, holds the official record with 4,256 hits.
When Ichiro lined his two-out double in the ninth off Padres closer Fernando Rodney, he received a huge ovation from the fans. Players and staffs for both clubs acknowledged the occasion as the baseball was tossed into the Miami dugout as a keepsake.
"It's unreal," Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton said. "It's what he's been doing his whole career, and this year especially. [Passing] Pete Rose, man. That's something unbelievable. It's hard to compare Japan to over here. But professional is professional. His work ethic is undeniable. I'm happy for him. Well deserved, for sure."
Marlins third baseman Martin Prado, who hails from Venezuela, has been a teammate of Ichiro's the past two seasons in Miami, and prior to that, with the Yankees.
"For me, personally, he deserves every, every, every part of my respect," Prado said. "It doesn't matter where he played, if he played in Japan, played here. It doesn't matter. You're still hitting the ball. You've got to play. You've got to stay healthy. This guy has been consistent his whole career. Whatever you play, Minor Leagues, that amount of hits is impossible."
At 42, Ichiro is re-energizing his career. He's been a spark for Miami and is batting .349.
"I see what you guys don't -- that's the inside preparation and everything," Stanton said. "It's par for the course for me. At his age, it's special beyond words. But the way he goes about his work, it should happen with the way that he prepares."
Ichiro led off the game with a swinging bunt single off Padres starter Luis Perdomo. He eventually scored the first run. And in the ninth, with the Marlins trailing by three, Ichiro's double put runners on second and third against Rodney.
"You wish it wasn't in a situation where it was going to stress us out," Padres manager Andy Green said. "It had to be in the ninth inning. But he's special. There's people in your life that you're privileged to have competed against, put on the same field. You tell everybody, your children, your children's children, you played against Ichiro and then you got to manage against him. Those things are special. He's as good as there is. He deserves more time and attention today for what he accomplished. But we wanted to win a baseball game."
The pursuit of 4,257 hits drew plenty of attention from the Japanese media. More than 50 news outlets attended each game in the three-game series.
Next up is 3,000 big league hits. Ichiro is 21 away.
"Honestly, it seems like every day he's breaking somebody's record," Marlins first baseman Justin Bour said. "I know it's not the same thing; there's been debate over that. Either way, that's really an impressive accomplishment. It's a testament to how hard he works."
Marlins reliever David Phelps also was with the Yankees a few years ago with Ichiro.
"I was fortunate to play with a few guys in New York who are going to be Hall of Famers," Phelps said. "I think it's really important for a team with as many young players as we have. You're seeing a Hall of Famer player, day in, day out. You see what it takes to be great at this game for a long period at a time."
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.