Jaffe: Ichiro celebrates milestone 4,000th career hit

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at SI’s The Strike Zone on August 21, 2013:

“It was supposed to be a number that was special to me,” said Ichiro Suzuki on collecting his 4,000th career hit in Wednesday night’s 4-2 win over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. “What happened tonight, I wasn’t expecting. When my teammates came out to first base, that was very special, and obviously the fans — I wasn’t expecting so much joy and happiness from them.”

The reaction of Suzuki’s Yankees teammates and the 36,140 fans on hand to witness his milestone hit — typically, a single, in this case off R.A. Dickey and past third baseman Brett Lawrie into leftfield — couldn’t compare to the outpouring for Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit two years ago. The Yankees captain has spent his entire career in the organization, winning five World Series and reaching a familiar plateau that was given months of buildup. Nonetheless, when presented with the chance to recognize Suzuki’s unique accomplishment, those on hand quite literally rose to the occasion, with fans giving him a standing ovation and teammates filing out of the dugout for a brief but memorable round of hugs and handshakes at first base.

“Having the 4,000th hit is important but what makes it most special was the fact that my teammates came out [to congratulate me]. When I look back on this, that’s what’s going to make it very special,” said Suzuki through his translator. “What I realized today is that the Yankees are so used to things like this happening, they’re so good at ceremonies like this.”

Compiled on two continents and two different leagues, Suzuki’s 4,000 hits — a total that includes 1,278 hits in Nippon Professional Baseball and another 2,722 in Major League Baseball — is an achievement as singular as the wiry, slap-hitting international superstar himself. Outside of Wednesday’s celebration in the Bronx, its significance is probably more misunderstood.

Read the full article here: http://mlb.si.com/2013/08/22/ichiro-suzuki-reacts-to-4000-hits/

Originally published: August 21, 2013. Last Updated: August 21, 2013.