Ichiro Suzuki breaks baseball career hits record with double against Padres

MLB: Miami Marlins at San Diego Padres

Ichiro Suzuki made baseball history on Wednesday – but the man whose record he broke doesn’t think the new mark should count.

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Icihiro broke Pete Rose’s all-time record of 4,256 after a double during the Miami Marlins’ game against the San Diego Padres, but Rose said he wasn’t counting Ichiro’s hits in Japan. The Miami Marlins outfielder has a career total of 4,257 hits – 2,979 in MLB and 1,278 in the Nippon Professional Baseball League.

Rose, who won three World Series rings, told USA Today earlier this week: “It sounds like in Japan they’re trying to make me the Hit Queen. I’m not trying to take anything away from Ichiro – he’s had a Hall of Fame career – but the next thing you know, they’ll be counting his high school hits.

“I don’t think you’re going to find anybody with credibility say that Japanese baseball is equivalent to major-league baseball. There are too many guys that fail here, and then become household names there, like Tuffy Rhodes. How can he not do anything here, and hit (a record-tying) 55 home runs (in 2001) over there?

“It has something to do with the caliber of personnel.”

Ichiro’s pursuit of the milestone is big news in Japan. NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting network, is broadcasting every game to chronicle one of the greatest achievements in Japanese sports history.

But in the US, it’s drawn little fanfare – something that doesn’t sit well with some.

“I cannot believe it’s not a bigger deal in Major League Baseball. Shame on us for not making a bigger deal out of it,” Arizona Diamondbacks assistant hitting coach Mark Grace told USA Today. “You’re talking about breaking Pete Rose’s record. I couldn’t care less if he got some of those hits in Japan or in Antarctica. You’re getting hits at high professional levels. That’s huge. I’m in awe of the guy.”

Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who produced 2,153 career hits, said: “It’s hard to compare, but it’s a lot of hits no matter how you slice it. We’ve had a number of Japanese players come over and be really successful. To say it’s minor-league and major-league numbers, that’s not quite fair.

“The fact is that he’s going to have 3,000 hits here, and to have all of those hits in Japan, too, tells you how special he is. The hits over there are hits against good quality pitching, basically major league-caliber players, so they’re legitimate for sure.”

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