In the year 2001, Major League Baseball witnessed the beginning of a phenomenon from Japan.
Ichiro Suzuki signed with the Seattle Mariners after nine years with the Orix Blue Wave. He’s the first Japanese position player to sign with a Major League team. Since then, the rest is history.
Ichiro went on to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP for the American League. He became a staple for the Mariners and a hitting machine. Ichiro Suzuki is a household name. His jersey is synonymous with the game of baseball.
The accomplishments came with the hits. Ichiro set the Major League record for the most hits on October 2, 2004 as a Seattle Mariner. He got his 3,000th career joint hit with the Mariners on July 29, 2008. During his stint with the New York Yankees, he reached 4,000 combined hits. With his current team, the Miami Marlins, he passed Ty Cobb.
Now, Ichiro is 23 hits away from 3,000 in the Major Leagues. He’s fast approaching Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader in baseball. Ichiro needs one more hit to pass Rose for the all-time list.
Rose disagrees with that assessment. He stated in an interview with USA Today how Ichiro’s hits in Japan shouldn’t count. Rose wants the world to know he is still the all-time hit king.
However, the landscape has changed. Japanese baseball has been prominent for decades, with many great players crossing over to the Major Leagues. Hideo Nomo threw no-hitters for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. Hideki Matsui became the World Series MVP for the Yankees in 2009.
Japanese players have made an impact in the Majors. Ichiro Suzuki transcends that ten-fold. In a world where baseball has become global, where it stretches to many countries, then this is an important record to behold.
We are witnessing history before our very eyes. Ichiro will reach 3,000 MLB hits barring injury. He’s on the cusp of taking over the all-time hits record. This means only one thing: Ichiro Suzuki will take over on a global scale.
Ichiro will become the new face of baseball for years to come. The sport will be redefined through his image and hard work. It’s time that we, as baseball fans, acknowledge that.
America’s Pastime has grown with its influence reaching out overseas. Ichiro Suzuki will pass Pete Rose, and it is something that finally is being discussed. The question remains for us baseball fans. Where were you when Ichiro Suzuki stepped foot on a Major League field for the first time?
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