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NEW YORK (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki stood near first base after lining a single for his 4,000th hit, hugging his teammates one by one, basking in the resounding cheers of an adoring Yankee Stadium crowd.
In that moment it did not matter that his name would not be listed in Major League Baseball’s record book next to Ty Cobb and Pete Rose, the only two players to reach the milestone solely in the major leagues.
Everyone involved Wednesday night knew: this was quite an achievement.
“I was overwhelmed,” Suzuki said of the reception.
The 39-year-old outfielder slashed a single the opposite way in the first inning off Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey that bounced just beyond diving third baseman Brett Lawrie for hit No. 4,000 in a career split between Japan and the major leagues.
“It’s an astronomical number,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. “He’s set a new standard in baseball and I offer Ichiro my heartfelt congratulations.”
With his 2,722nd hit in the big leagues he passed Yankees Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig in his 13th season in the United States. The speedy outfielder amassed 1,278 hits in nine seasons with Orix of Japan’s Pacific League.
Rose finished with 4,256 hits and Cobb had 4,191, but Suzuki is not thinking about catching Rose.
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