A sampling of national-media reaction after former Ichiro picked up his 3,000th career hit on Sunday.
It was only a matter of time for a timeless player like Ichiro.
After being stuck at 2,998 hits for 11 at-bats, Ichiro picked up one hit on Saturday before becoming the 30th player to reach the career milestone. Ichiro also became the fourth player born outside the continuous United States to achieve 3,000 career hits, joining Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico), Rafael Palmiero (Cuba) and Rod Carew (Panama).
The national media had plenty to say about such a notable achievement. Below is a sampling of some of the reaction and tributes:
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Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback paid tribute to Ichiro in his weekly NFL column:
“Way to go, Ichiro: You not only got your 3,000th hit in American baseball, but you got it with a triple. I feared an infield dribbler, because Ichiro had been struggling so, and residing mostly on the bench.”
The Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer was on hand in Colorado for the historic hit:
“Several times during his post-game comments, Suzuki’s eyes welled with tears as he spoke about a milestone few have achieved in more than a century’s worth of major league baseball. At times, he was personal and deeply reflective.”
David Schoenfield of ESPN.com discussed Ichiro’s long-lasting impact:
“Ichiro always understood himself better than we did, never doubted his ability to keep playing into his 40s, kept stretching and gyrating and we laugh when he says he wants to play until he’s 50, but if anyone can play forever it will be Ichiro.”
ESPN.com’s Jim Caple said he reached 3,000 hits by following meticulous standards:
“Reaching 3,000 hits is an amazing accomplishment, especially when you don’t get your first until age 27. But joining the prestigious 3,000 Hit Club is just one way in which Ichiro — one of the best and most intriguing players in baseball history — has made himself noteworthy.”
Robert O’Connell of The Atlantic explained why watching Ichiro was such a singular joy:
“Ichiro is not nearly the best player in (the 3,000-hit club), but he may be the most representative of its spirit of sustained excellence, of moderate success massed into something spectacular over time. At his best, during a decade with the Seattle Mariners, he was a variously gifted talent, a wall-climbing and cannon-armed dynamo in right field, but his core genius was always for sending a baseball just out of reach of the defenders.”
Les Carpenter of The Guardian wrote about Kenichiro Kawamura, the minor-league hitting coach who saw the genius of Ichiro’s swing from an early age (original 2003 story Carpenter wrote about Kawamura for The Seattle Times here):
“He knew he was watching brilliance when he saw Ichiro swing. And because Ichiro was very fast, he would get hits even when he didn’t hit the ball well. Given the way Ichiro also threw from the outfield, his heaves low and hard and straight, Kawamura was sure Ichiro was right. The player was an outfielder, not a pitcher.”
The Ringer’s Claire McNear paid tribute with life lessons from Ichiro:
“But for all the debate, Ichiro remains an enigma more than 15 years after making his MLB debut with the Mariners. He famously refuses to speak to reporters in English, even though he has a strong grasp of the language: He says that he fears being misunderstood, and so relies on longtime translator Allen Turner instead. Even through a translator, Ichiro has exhibited a remarkable knack for saying things that are enlightening, bizarre, or, more often, both.”
Manny Randhawa of Sports on Earth crunched the numbers on Ichiro:
“There are 30 members of the 3,000 hit club, but far fewer in an impressive subgroup to which Ichiro now belongs. Until Sunday, just three players in Major League history with 3,000 career hits also stole 500 or more bases and hit at least .300 for their career — (Ty) Cobb, Eddie Collins and Paul Molitor. Ichiro became the fourth, with 3,000 hits, 507 stolen bases and a career .314 batting average.”
The New York Times’ David Waldstein put Ichiro’s impact in perspective:
“Before Suzuki signed with the Mariners, the only Japanese players considered good enough to excel in the major leagues were pitchers. Suzuki almost instantly shattered the old perceptions, leading directly to the signings of several more players from Japan, including Hideki Matsui by the Yankees, Kazuo Matsui by the Mets and Kosuke Fukudome by the Chicago Cubs.”
Mike Axisa of CBS Sports pointed out another former Mariner might be in line to be the next to reach 3,000 hits:
“The last player prior to Ichiro to reach 3,000 hits was Alex Rodriguez with the Yankees in 2015. Who will be next to get to 3,000? Most likely Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre. He has 2,878 career hits.”