Ichiro swings past Rose? Yes and no. The Japanese baseball star now has more hits than Pete Rose — with a catch.
According to the New York Times, Ichiro Suzuki moved past Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader on June 15, but the legitimacy of that “record” is up for debate.
Ichiro tied Pete Rose’s record of 4,256 hits by beating out an infield dribbler in the first inning of a recent Marlins game against San Diego. In the ninth inning, he smashed a double to right field, moving past Rose in total career hits.
The dispute, however, pertains to the fact that many of Ichiro Suzuki’s hits came when he was playing in Japan, not in the United States. If Ichiro’s hits from the Japan Pacific League are combined with his MLB hit totals, he now has more hits than MLB’s all-time hits king, Pete Rose.
“I don’t think you’re going to find anybody with credibility say that Japanese baseball is equivalent to major league baseball,” Rose said. “If you say those hits in Japan are professional hits, then my hits in the minor leagues are professional hits, too.”
— Cincinnati Reds Shop (@CincinnatiRedsV) June 10, 2016
Ichiro weighed in on the matter after tallying his 4,257th hit, and he was not willing to push the matter of whether his combined professional hits total should count as a “record.”
“I don’t think you can compare,” Suzuki stated through an interpreter when asked about his multi-league hit total. “Obviously, it’s a combined record. So I always just say, what people think about that record, if they recognize it, I’d be happy.”
USA Today reports that Ichiro Suzuki accumulated 1,278 hits during his playing days in Japan. Most of his cumulative hit total, however, was built during his time playing for MLB’s Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, and Miami Marlins. Ichiro currently has 2,979 hits as a Major League Baseball player.
While there are no official records kept for inter-league statistics, some will now consider Ichiro to be the all-time hits leader in professional baseball. Others will discount that notion, making the argument that the overall talent and level of competition in the Japan Pacific League is inferior to that of Major League Baseball in the United States.
Regardless of one’s take on the hits record, it is clear that Pete Rose and Ichiro Suzuki are both among the best players in the history of professional baseball.
Rose began his legendary career back in 1963, starring for the Cincinnati Reds. Pete Rose enjoyed a great deal of personal and team success during his years in Cincinnati — Rose was a regular in the MLB All-Star Game, and the Reds won back-to-back World Series Championships in 1975 and 1976.
In 1979, Rose left Cincinnati and signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies. Rose spent the next five years as a key member of the Phillies organization, and after a short stint in Montreal, Rose returned to the Reds to close out his 24-year MLB career in 1986.
Ichiro Suzuki began his baseball career by playing nine seasons (1992-2000) in his home country of Japan. Ichiro was so successful for Orix of the Japan Pacific League that he began to draw attention from MLB clubs. The Seattle Mariners eventually purchased his contract from Orix, which was the start of a 12-year relationship between Ichiro and the Mariners.
Upon coming to the United States, Suzuki made an immediate impact on the Mariners, and MLB as a whole. He made the All-Star team for 10 consecutive seasons while playing in Seattle, but in 2012, he moved on to the New York Yankees via trade. While Ichiro was no longer the player he once was at age 38, he continued to be a solid contributor and outstanding teammate during his time in New York.
The Miami Marlins signed Ichiro as a free agent in 2015, and even though he is now 42 years old, he is still performing at a high level — his current batting average is among the highest of his career.
Ichiro swings past Rose for the all-time hits lead? Do you see this combined hit total as a legitimate record?
[Photo by Gregory Bull/AP Images]