Against the ongoing New York Yankees drama with Alex Rodriguez and the health of Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki got his 4,000th career hit
on Wednesday, quietly reaching one of baseball's great milestones.
The hit came in the first inning of the Yankees' 4-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, reported USA Today
. The game was delayed after the hit as his teammates congratulated him on the field. A video message from former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. also played on the scoreboard.
"At first I was trying to stop (the players) from coming," Suzuki told reporters. "But it was just because I was so happy and overjoyed with the way they supported me. … When I look back on this, that's what's going to make this very special."
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Yankees manager Joe Girardi praised Suzuki for his accomplishment, according to the New York Daily News
"It’s an amazing feat," said Girardi. "He’s a great player and he’s been a great player for a long time."
Suzuki became the third player in baseball history to reach 4,000 hits in any country's top level of professional baseball. His milestone is a combination of 1,278 hits in the Pacific League, Japan's major league, with another 2,722 hits and counting with the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees, according to ESPN.com
Some have argued the legitimacy Suzuki's numbers in Japan, but ESPN argued that the hits are still impressive and worthy of praise. Only Pete Rose and Ty Cobb have reached 4,000 major league hits.
ESPN reported that if hits in the majors and minors are combined, only five players have reached that number: Rose, Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Jigger Statz (a little-known player had 3,356 hits in the old Pacific Coast League).
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"Whether you count Japan as a major league or a minor league – or something in between – Ichiro is about to join that elite fraternity," wrote Jim Caple, of ESPN.com. "Ichiro showed that an outfielder smaller than some players in the Little League World Series could be a dazzling All-Star and MVP. The highlights remain devoted to hulking sluggers, but Ichiro is a refreshing reminder that infield singles and gappers can be just as exciting as tape-measure home runs."
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