On Wednesday night, the Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki made history of a sort, becoming the first player to collect a combined 4,000 hits between the major leagues in Japan and the United States. Suzuki collected 1,278 during his seven full seasons (1994-2000) and parts of two others (1992-1993) with the Orix BlueWave, and came into Wednesday evening's game against the Blue Jays with 2,721 since coming to MLB in 2001, leaving him one hit shy of the plateau.
The 39-year-old right fielder collected the missing hit with a first-inning single to left field off Jays starter R.A. Dickey. As soon as he reached first base safely and play stopped, the Yankees came out of the dugout to congratulate him, and the Yankee Stadium crowd gave him a standing ovation. Ichiro doffed his batting helmet and bowed to the crowd and to countryman Munenori Kawasaki, the Blue Jays' second baseman. Here's the base knock:
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Incidentally, his 2,722nd hit in MLB moved him out of a tie for 59th on the all-time hit leaderboard with Yankees legend Lou Gehrig. At his current pace, Suzuki would likely need until the 2015 season to reach 3,000 stateside, no guarantee given he'll be 41 years old by then and will need to sign another contract. While the milestone he reached doesn't equate to the 4,000-plus hits of Pete Rose or Ty Cobb, or the 3,000 hits of the 26 other major leaguers who have reached that plateau, it should stand as the signature accomplishment of a perennial All-Star who has brought an inimitable brand of baseball to two continents while serving as an unparalleled ambassador for the game.