By Yuka Takeda
The North American Post
He finally made it. Ichiro Suzuki became the 30th player to mark a 3,000-career hit in the big leagues on Aug. 7.
The Seattle Mariners, his first team in MLB, released a congratulatory message after his milestone.
“On behalf of the Seattle Mariners organization and the fans of the Northwest, I would like to congratulate Ichiro on his 3,000th hit in Major League Baseball,” said Mariners Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Howard Lincoln. “It is another historic achievement in his great career, as he becomes only the 30th player to reach the milestone, one of his several Hall of Fame credentials.”
It might have been hard to imagine the number when the Mariners signed with the Japanese star, who had even recorded 1,278 hits and won the batting title for seven year consecutive years by 2000.
“Ichiro was famous in Japan, but he was not in America,” said Tomio Moriguchi, chairman of Uwajimaya. “Many people did not pay attention to him that much.”
In his rookie year he accumulated a rookie-record 242 hits, but also became the only player in the big leagues’ history to have won an MVP, Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger Award, all while starting in the All-Star Game in the same season. He set the all-time sing-season record with 262 hits in 2004 as he was a 10-time All-Star and earned 10 Gold Glove Awards as a Mariner.
While recording 2,533 hits through the 2012 season until he was traded to the New York Yankees, Ichiro has been an icon not only in the team but also the region, impacting many aspects from culture to economy.
“Because of Ichiro’s performance, more American people got interesting in Japan and are trying to learn Japanese in Seattle,” local Nikkei Barbara Mizoguchi said. “Also, more Japanese people visited Seattle and noted that he played an important role in the relationships between Japan and America.”
The Mariners have also been celebrating the Japan Night event for years as the team has acquired many Japanese players after Ichiro. The team will host the 2016 Japan Night on Aug. 22.
“Ichiro’s contributions to the Mariners franchise were immeasurable,” team CEO Lincoln said, “…he provided the fans of the Northwest with many great moments and memories.
“When you consider also what he accomplished in Japan, Ichiro was and is an international baseball superstar.”