Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki tied and then passed Pete Rose for the all-time hits record in professional baseball with two knocks in Wednesday's game against the San Diego Padres.
Suzuki led off the top of the first inning at Petco Park with a base hit off Luis Perdomo and then came around to score on a Christian Yelich single. The 42-year-old moved his professional hits total to 4,256 with that single, tying Rose, as the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer noted. Suzuki picked up 1,278 of those hits in Japan.
In the ninth inning, Suzuki doubled, passing Rose with his 4,257th hit, and MLB commemorated the achievement afterward:
When asked about Ichiro's pursuit of his milestone, Rose seemed dismissive of the feat because of the diminished level of competition Suzuki faced early in his career, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale:
I don't think you're going to find anybody with credibility say that Japanese baseball is equivalent to Major League Baseball. There are too many guys that fail here, and then become household names there, like Tuffy Rhodes. How can he not do anything here, and hit (a record-tying) 55 home runs (in 2001) over there? It has something to do with the caliber of personnel.
Whatever the merit of his accomplishments overseas, Ichiro has lived up to and even exceeded the hype that accompanied him when he made his MLB transition in 2001.
Ichiro led the American League in hits seven times and is a two-time AL batting champion. He strung together 10 consecutive seasons of 200 hits or more—the same number Rose achieved in his career.
It's intriguing to imagine what would've happened had Ichiro begun his pro career stateside. He may have challenged Rose's MLB mark. Instead, his achievement of passing Rose in overall hits likely won't leave much of an impression on most baseball fans.
That being said, Ichiro's performance Wednesday gave him 2,979 MLB hits. With 21 more hits, he'll become the 30th player to reach the 3,000-hit mark.