At this point, we’ve established that the great Ichiro makes history some days just by taking the field in a Major League Baseball game. He made history again Thursday, but this time it took work — specifically a couple swings of his bat.
Ichiro singled twice in the Miami Marlins’ 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, those two singles giving him the record for most hits in MLB history by a foreign-born player. You might have guessed Ichiro — now with 3,054 hits — held that record already, since he’s one of baseball’s most famous international names and among MLB’s most elite hitters of the past two decades.
But the record actually belonged to Rod Carew, who was born in Panama and until Thursday ranked 24th on the all-time hit list. After the game, Ichiro talked about his relationship with Carew, via Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:
“When I got to 3,000 hits, he wrote me a letter,” Suzuki said. “I know he’s not feeling well. But he wrote me a letter.”
Carew, a native of Panama, underwent a heart and kidney transplant in December. Suzuki said he met Carew a number of years back.
“Usually, a lot of players who have played in the past, when they retire and look back, they look at the game today and think the game is easy,” Suzuki said through his interpreter. “But I felt that he was not one of those. He is a really nice man. It was very special for me to be able to pass Rod Carew, so that was more special for me today.”
What makes every Ichiro accomplishment more impressive is that he didn’t begin playing in MLB until he was 27. He collected another 1,278 hits in Japan, giving him a career total of 4,330.
Ichiro, 43, has said he wants to play until he’s 50 and if that happens in MLB, he’ll pass more players on the all-time hit list. Here’s what’s ahead of him:
25. Rod Carew – 3,053
24. Ichiro – 3,054
23. Rickey Henderson — 3,055
22. Craig Biggio —3,060
21. Dave Winfield — 3,110
20. Alex Rodriguez — 3,115
Heck, Ichiro might pass Rickey by this weekend.
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