Ichiro Suzuki lined a double off San Diego Padres pitcher Fernando Rodney for his 4,257th hit of his baseball career from Japan and Major League Baseball which combined passed Pete Rose for all-time hits. In Japan Ichiro had 1,278 hits and 2,979 MLB hits. Many people are crowning Ichiro the “Hit King” which is spurring much debate, is Ichiro the true “Hit King,” or is it Charlie Hustle?
Ichiro right away was his respectable humble self saying, “For me, it’s not about the record, it’s about my teammates and the fans.” He has always been a such a humble and great man. He did not claim himself as “Hit King” or boast about it in any way.
Pete Rose made his opinion known to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale saying,
“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.”
As much as this pains me to say it, I agree with Pete Rose. All of Ichiro’s hits in Japan shouldn’t be in consideration when talking about MLB records. It is incredible that Ichiro has hit that much in his career and even more incredible that he is approaching 3,000 MLB hits after coming into the Majors as 27 year-old. Pete Rose, however, should still be considered MLB’s “Hit King” because he hit all 4,256 of them in the MLB. He really does have a strong point that I agree with concerning the type of play here and in Japan. The talent is simply better here and they are completely different leagues. There’s reason tons of Japan players dreams are to play in the MLB. Only MLB stats should be in consideration when talking about MLB records.
Don’t get me wrong, Ichiro deserves to be a first ballot Hall of Famer and should be considered to be one of the greatest hitters the world has ever seen. Not only has he been one of the greatest, but Ichiro is an international icon. Many around the world will recognize the name Ichiro. He plays with all his heart and has made great contributions to the MLB. I am not trying to take anything away from his stellar career, but unfortunately, the one and only Charlie Hustle deserves the title, “Hit King,” not Ichiro.
Let’s all enjoy the major milestones of future Hall of Famer:
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OMEDETOU ICHIRO for 4,000 career international hits! He is only the 3rd man to achieve this as you hear in the video. In case your wondering, omedetou means congratulations in Japanese.