LOS ANGELES: Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki etched his own piece of baseball history on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), surpassing Pete Rose’s fabled record for hits during a 6-3 defeat against the San Diego Padres.
The 42-year-old Japanese star took his hit count in professional baseball to 4,257, one past Rose’s longstanding Major League Baseball mark of 4,256 set between 1963 and 1986.
Suzuki’s pursuit of Rose’s total has been followed avidly in his native Japan.
However the significance of his milestone has not generated the same level of attention in the United States, mostly because 1,278 of Suzuki’s hits came while playing in Japan.
Rose himself had played down Suzuki’s achievement in comments to US media this week, saying the total did not deserve to be ranked alongside his own record.
Suzuki, meanwhile, shrugged off the controversial nature of Rose’s comments.
“Obviously, I’ve heard Pete Rose’s comments that he wasn’t very happy about me and the record,” Suzuki said.
“But this wasn’t some kind of a goal. It was just a weird situation to be in,” added Suzuki, who is now closing in on 3,000 major league hits with his total at 2,979.
“The 3,000 hits is a no-doubter … that is a goal I want to achieve,” he said.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly, meanwhile, praised the veteran’s achievement.
“Ichiro is a really special player and I love seeing him get this and keep his march toward 3,000 hits,” Mattingly said.
“It says a lot about him, how he prepares and his love for the game.
“You play to win the game and that is how he plays. I wish more people would do that during their careers. The numbers would end up being there at the end.”
Suzuki brought up his tally after doubling to rightfield with two outs in the ninth inning.
He tagged closing relief pitcher Fernando Rodney of the host San Diego Padres for his 4,257th combined professional hit in North American and Japanese top-level games.
Ichiro matched Rose’s total with a leadoff infield single in the first inning.
Two pitches into the game, Ichiro tapped a rolling infield hit off a 93mph fastball from Padres’ right-hander Luis Perdomo.
After that hit and again after his double in the ninth, Ichiro was rewarded with huge applause from the rival ballpark fans.