August 8, 2016
One day after Giancarlo Stanton's tape-measure home run in Denver, there was another historic feat at Coors Field yesterday: Ichiro Suzuki got his #3000th hit in the major leagues, the 30th player ever to do so. The last such player was Alex Rodriguez (soon-to-retire), who hit a home run on June 19, 2015. I was watching the Sunday game live on the MLB network during Ichiro's third at bat, but not during his fourth at bat, when he hit a triple. Now that's a classy way to cross that symbolic threshold! See MLB.com.
On March 25 I wrote that he ought to reach the big 3K around midsummer, then on April 11 I expressed doubt about whether he would break the 3,000-hit mark at all this year, since he wasn't getting much playing time with the Marlins. Things sure changed after that! He started hitting like in the old days, and he may end up playing a key role with the Marlins as they make a big push toward the postseason.
I saw Ichiro play a game with the Seattle Mariners against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on August 1, 2010. (Unfortunately, I didn't have a good zoom lens camera back then.) I consulted baseball-reference.com to make sure about the exact situation in this photo: With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, Michael Saunders was on third after hitting a triple, and Rob Johnson was on first after walking. Ichiro uncharacteristically grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning. It kind of looks like a swinging bunt:
The Twins won that game, 4-0. While going through the photos I took that day, I realized that the batter in the "Target Field grand view" photo (on the Target Field page) was none other than Denard Span, who played with the Washington Nationals from 2013 to 2015, and joined the San Francisco Giants this year.
Ichiro played with the Orix Buffaloes from 1992 until 2000; their home field is the Kyocera Dome, in the city of Osaka. (See my Japanese leagues page.) Then he signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners, where he played from 2001 until July 2012, when he was traded to the New York Yankees. After becoming a free agent again, he signed with the Miami Marlins in January 2015. Prior to this year, he had a lifetime MLB batting average of .314, with 2,935 hits and 113 home runs. His best year was 2004, when he batted .372. (SOURCE: 2016 Who's Who in Baseball) Even though Ichiro is his given name, and Suzuki is his family name, Ichiro prefers that his first name be displayed on his uniform, since Suzuki is such a common name in Japan -- like Smith or Johnson. (See wikipedia.org.)
Miami will play their last three games of the regular season in Washington from September 30 to October 2, so Ichiro may take a final bow in Nationals Park. Or the Marlins may make it to the postseason, in which case anything can happen!