Ichiro Suzuki joined elite company on Wednesday, joining Pete Rose and Ty Cobb as the only professional baseball players to collect 4,000 hits at the major league level. Of those 4,000 hits, 2,722 have now come in Major League Baseball (Rose and Cobb's hit total are both exclusive to MLB), which ironically moved him past New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig on the all-time hit list. The first 1,278 hits of Ichiro's all came while playing in Japan's equivalent of MLB.
Fittingly enough, No. 4,000 was an Ichiro special — a slap single just past a diving Brett Lawrie at third base. The clean hit came against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, whom Ichiro had been 0 for 10 against lifetime.
After reaching first base, Ichiro's teammates all flooded out of the dugout to congratulate him on his milestone. An emotional Munenori Kawasaki — Toronto's starting second baseman on Wednesday and another of MLB's Japanese stars — was shown applauding several times as Ichiro tipped his cap and acknowledged the crowd's standing ovation.
It was a special moment for a very special player. Though as Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan wrote recently, when the dust settles for Ichiro, he'll simply view it as another gift rather than a round number or a milestone.
For those who enjoy the numbers, though, here's a pretty cool breakdown courtesy of ESPN's Buster Olney and The Pinstriped Bible on Twitter.
MLB hits ages 27-39: Ichiro 2,722. Pete Rose 2,658. Ty Cobb 2,300. Derek Jeter 2,300. Stan Musial 2,229. Hank Aaron 2,200.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 21, 2013
That really puts Ichiro's production into perspective.
Ichiro hit breakdown: 3106 singles, 552 doubles, 116 triples, and 226 homers. 1278 with Orix, 2533 with Seattle, and 189 with the Yanks.
— The Pinstriped Bible (@pinstripebible) August 21, 2013
Obviously the bulk of Ichiro's production came during his time in Seattle, so the night wouldn't have been complete without the Mariners acknowledging his big moment.
Another milestone on his road to Cooperstown. Congrats, Ichiro! pic.twitter.com/yitzP5yjIz
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 21, 2013
Well played, Seattle. And congratulations, Ichiro.