Ichiro Suzuki joined elite company on Wednesday, joining Pete Rose and Ty Cobb as the only professional baseball players to collect 4,000 hits at the major league level. Of those 4,000 hits, 2,722 have now come in Major League Baseball (Rose and Cobb's hit total are both exclusive to MLB), which ironically moved him past New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig on the all-time hit list. The first 1,278 hits of Ichiro's all came while playing in Japan's equivalent of MLB.
Fittingly enough, No. 4,000 was an Ichiro special — a slap single just past a diving Brett Lawrie at third base. The clean hit came against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, whom Ichiro had been 0 for 10 against lifetime.
After reaching first base, Ichiro's teammates all flooded out of the dugout to congratulate him on his milestone. An emotional Munenori Kawasaki — Toronto's starting second baseman on Wednesday and another of MLB's Japanese stars — was shown applauding several times as Ichiro tipped his cap and acknowledged the crowd's standing ovation.
It was a special moment for a very special player. Though as Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan wrote recently, when the dust settles for Ichiro, he'll simply view it as another gift rather than a round number or a milestone.