Usually when a member of the New York Yankees does something significant on the diamond, the news is greeted around here with shrugs and eye-rolls, but what Ichiro Suzuki accomplished yesterday should transcend even the bitterest of rivalries. The longtime Mariners and Orix Blue Wave All Star and sure Hall of Famer reached 4,000 hits in his professional career, with 1,278 coming in his homeland and another 2,722 in Major League Baseball. But his accomplishment also has some relevance to Red Sox history. Here's how:
Only two players, Pete Rose and Ty Cobb reached the mythical 4,000 hit mark in the majors alone, the banished Rose in front with 4,256, and Cobb with a re-adjusted 4,189 (down from the original tally of 4,191). However when you take into account all of their hits as a professional, Rose's 427 knocks as a minor leaguer bumps his total to 4,683, while Cobb's incomplete minor league total of 166 hits moves him to 4,355. Now with Ichiro joining them there are six players with professional resumes that include 4,000 safeties. Longtime Home Run King ,Hank Aaron, had 3,771 major league hits and 324 in the minors for 4,095. Stan Musial was truly The Man, collecting 3,630 hits for the Cardinals, another 371 in the minors and countless others playing on his base team at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
The sixth member of the club is also the only one to appear for the Red Sox. Arnold “Jigger” Statz was a dimunitive (5'7”, 150 pounds) outfielder who played in parts of eight big league seasons for the Giants, Cubs, Dodgers and a hitless two-game stint for the 1920 Red Sox. Statz managed 737 hits in 683 big league contest. He also enjoyed a record-shattering 18-year career for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, where he set myriad league records including most hits (3,356) giving him 4,093 hits as a pro.
Of the members of the major league 3,000 hits club, the top two in minor league hits were onetime Red Sox. Wade Boggs had 3,010 hits for the Red Sox, Yankees and Devil Rays and 724 hits in the minors. Alltime runs leader, Rickey Henderson had 3,055 major league hits and 650 in the bushes. To this point another ex-Sox, Tris Speaker, is the top 4,000-club bridesmaid, standing at 3,965 combined hits (3,514 MLB, 451 MiLB) although at 3,859 paid hits, Derek Jeter has a chance to barge his way into the elite group. The Red Sox' alltime leader in hits, Carl Yastrzemski, is ninth overall with 3,419 hits in MLB and 363 in MiLB.
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He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrateds 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.
Now living in Marblehead, hes focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.