SAN DIEGO (AP) — With two hits Wednesday, Ichiro Suzuki raised his career total in the Japanese and North American major leagues to 4,257, passing Pete Rose’s record Major League Baseball total.
“This wasn’t like a goal of mine to get to this point,” Suzuki said through a translator after the Miami Marlins’ 6-3 loss to the San Diego Padres.
Suzuki had 1,278 hits for Orix in Japan’s Pacific League (1992-00) and has 2,979 with Seattle, the New York Yankees and Marlins. Rose was quoted recently by USA Today as saying: “I’m not trying to take anything away from Ichiro, he’s had a Hall of Fame career, but the next thing you know, they’ll be counting his high-school hits.”
“Obviously, I’ve heard of Pete Rose’s comments, and he wasn’t happy about what they are saying about this record,” Suzuki said. “To be honest, this wasn’t something that I was a making out as a goal. It was just kind of a weird situation to be in because of the combined total.”
Suzuki’s first hit Wednesday was on a dribbler in the first. His second was a double into the right-field corner in the ninth.
“For me, it’s not about the record,” Suzuki said. “It’s about my teammates and the fans.”
Marlins president David Samson watched while having a sushi dinner in Germany.
“Ichiro gets a hit in the first inning and I loudly cheer. He looks at the TV and says ‘Ichiro!’ and the first thing he does is put down the tuna and extend his hand, and then he reaches to pull up his white coat like it’s Ichiro’s jersey and gets into Ichiro’s batting stance,” Samson said of the chef. “That to me was the most symbolic moment as it relates to Ichiro and his career. He transcends borders and demographics and religion and race. He does something very few people do. He does his job.”
Suzuki joined the Marlins ahead of the 2015 season.
“If you could have 25 Ichiros, you would have 25 World Series rings.” Samson said. “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 athlete are rarely role models, Ichiro is a true role model off and on the field.”
Suzuki reached on a dribbler up the first-base line in the first. Derek Norris, a catcher, made a sliding attempt to field the ball and throw it in one motion, but Suzuki had already raced past the bag. Suzuki advanced to second on Martin Prado’s single and scored on Christian Yelich’s RBI single.
In the ninth, Suzuki lined a double into the right-field corner against Fernando Rodney, then took off his helmet and waved it to applauding fans. The sparse crowd, announced at 20,037, gave Suzuki a warm ovation as both teams’ players applauded for Suzuki, as well.
“Ichiro is a really special player and I love to see him get this and keep his march going toward 3,000 hits,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It says a lot about him as a player, how he prepares every day and his love for playing.”
Padres manager Andy Green seconded Mattingly: “He’s special. There are people in your life which you’re privileged with competing against and you get to manage against. He’s as good as there is.”