Miami veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (yes, he’s still playing) tied the legendary Babe Ruth for 42nd on MLB’s all-time hit list with 2,873 base-knocks when he recorded a single in the fifth-inning of Monday’s 3–2 loss to Arizona.
Ruth, who was the all-time leader in home runs until Hank Aaron passed him more than 40 years ago, got there in completely different ways though as nearly half (1,356) the Bambino’s total went for extra bases. Ichiro, meanwhile has made a living off singles with 2,338 of them in the big leagues—good for 13th most all-time and well behind Pete Rose.
But Ichiro is currently in third place and closing quickly on Rose in another all-time category—all-league professional hits.
The 41-year old who is hitting a very respectable .284 this year, accumulated 1,278 hits in seven seasons in Japan now has amassed 4,151 between the two leagues. Though it won’t be recognized by Major League Baseball, he could reach Rose’s record-4,256 professional hits before the end of the season and possibly even MLB’s exclusive 3,000-hit club—an astounding total given how old (27) he was when he came over in 2001.
During that inaugural season, the speedster who came over after playing for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan’s Pacific League, put American baseball on notice when he won Rookie of the Year and MVP. He also collected better than 200 hits (242) and won a Gold Glove that same season—the first of 10 straight years he pulled the double-trick.
Now in his later years, Ichiro has stayed relevant (actually above average), despite playing a young man’s game. Though he hasn’t won a Gold Glove or collected 200 hits in a season since 2010, his .284 average last year for the Yankees was his best since he hit .315 four years and he even managed to steal 15 bases as a 40-year-old—enough to keep the pitchers honest.