Japan hails Ichiro’s 3000-hit feat
JAPAN celebrated yesterday after baseball star Ichiro Suzuki became only the 30th member of Major League Baseball’s elite 3000-hit club, with growing hopes he will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Television footage showed businesspeople and shoppers flocking at an Osaka railway station in western Japan to grab “extra” editions published by the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun with a headline saying: “Ichiro marks 3000 hits in USA”.
Public broadcaster NHK sent a news flash immediately after the 42-year-old Miami Marlins centre-fielder blasted a triple in the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies. The Marlins won 10-7 on August 6 in Denver.
“It was a long-awaited moment for all of Japan as well as the United States,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
“I want to heartily express my congratulations on his achievement of the brilliant record in the Japanese and US baseball world,” the top government spokesman said.
The Saga Shimbun, a local newspaper in southwestern Japan, also issued an online extra edition, saying, “He is certain to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
Ichiro tied late Pittsburgh Pirates great Roberto Clemente for 29th place on baseball’s all-time hit list. He also had an infield single in the August 6 game to bring him within one of the milestone.
“This is a real milestone that America also can’t help but acknowledge,” said Sadaharu Oh, Japan’s retired home-run king, referring to some opinions in the US after Ichiro in June smacked his 4257th career hit – divided between his early years in Japanese professional baseball and subsequent stints with several MLB clubs.
That sum total has resulted in some US voices saying the haul is not in the same class as that of the legendary Pete Rose, who garnered his Major League record 4256 hits over a 24-year career, mostly with the Cincinnati Reds.
“I was so moved at the moment,” Suzuki’s father Nobuyuki, 73, told reporters. “I hope he will continue to play until the age of 50.”
Ichiro made his professional debut for Japan’s Orix BlueWave in 1992 before moving to the North American major leagues.
He became the first Japanese position player in Major League history in 2001, debuting with the Seattle Mariners and earning American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honours.
Profoundly revered among Japanese public, Ichiro is a frequent subject of television documentaries, detailing his stoic preparations for games during and between seasons. –
A man distributes special extra editions of a newspaper to passers-by in Tokyo on August 8 reporting that Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki notched his 3000th career hit in US Major League Baseball. Ichiro Suzuki of the Miami Marlins became just the 30th US Major League Baseball player to get 3000 career hits on August 7, with a triple in the seventh inning.