Ichiro Suzuki is currently sitting on 3,999 career professional hits. He’ll soon reach 4,000 for his career, perhaps as soon as tonight’s Yankees game vs. the Blue Jays in the Bronx.
Yes, this takes into his time with the Orix BlueWave in Japan. No, Ichiro is not going to become the all-time hits king.
It’s an interesting, unique milestone for a thoroughly professional hitter who’ll likely end up in Cooperstown sometime next decade. Before you start quibbling with that, Ichiro has 2,721 hits as a Major Leaguer. If he hangs on another couple years, he’ll pass 3,000 which is one of those automatic Hall of Fame thresholds. Right now he’s tied with Lou Gehrig for 59th on the all-time MLB base hit list. When Ichiro passes the 4,000 hit barrier he’ll join only Pete Rose and Ty Cobb in that territory.
If you needed that to tell you about Ichiro’s greatness, that’s unfortunate. When he debuted in 2001, he was a bit of a sensation — or at least as much of a sensation as a slap-hitting singles-hitter who plays excellent outfield defense can be in baseball. Granted, I happened to drive across country that summer and ended up buying an Ichiro shirsey at Safeco Field, which might make me a little biased.
Anyways, the folks over at MLB Advanced Media dug up footage of Ichiro’s first professional hit on American soil. The clip is from April 2, 2001 with Ichiro stroking a single up-the-middle past Oakland pitcher T.J. Mathews.
It’s a quiant, antiquated noticed but it would be nice to celebrate Ichiro’s achievement and not turn it into a silly debate. Granted this is the year 2013, which makes such rational takes toward enjoying sports impossible. Sigh.