Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki cemented his place in baseball lore Sunday, as he became the 30th player in MLB history to record 3,000 career hits with a triple in the top of the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies:
MLB.com shared video of the historic moment:
The 42-year-old veteran racked up 1,278 hits during his career in Japan, giving him a total of 4,278 hits in major professional baseball.
Pete Rose is Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader with 4,256 hits, and while some consider Ichiro the Hit King due to his exploits in Japan, Rose disagrees, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
It sounds like in Japan they're trying to make me the Hit Queen. 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.
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.
Regardless of Rose's position, Ichiro's 3,000th MLB hit put an exclamation point on a career that likely has him ticketed for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, one day.
Ichiro is in the midst of his 16th MLB season, and while he is no longer the same player who made 10 straight All-Star teams and won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves, a Rookie of the Year award and an American League MVP award with the Seattle Mariners from 2001 through 2010, he continues to be a useful asset.
As the fourth outfielder for a Marlins team that is in the thick of the National League playoff race, he entered Sunday hitting .318 for the season. Players often back in to their 3,000th hit by virtue of hanging around for too long, but Ichiro has proven this season that he is still a capable performer at baseball's highest level.
While Ichiro could decide to retire at the end of the 2016 campaign, the Marlins have a club option to retain him for 2017 should he opt to continue playing. Based on how well he has fared this year, the organization has every reason to keep him around if he's willing to do so.
If Ichiro does play in 2017, he has a great chance to crack the top 20 in career MLB hits, which would bolster his Hall of Fame resume even further. Earlier this year, Ichiro told Marly Rivera of ESPN that he would like to play until he is 50.
Due to his unique hitting style and consistent production, Ichiro is a one-of-a-kind player. After reaching 3,000 hits, there is no denying his status as one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game.
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