Ichiro Suzuki now has the photos to remember every step of his journey to 3,000 hits.
Marlins president David Samson and president of baseball operations Michael Hill unveiled a large framed collage with pictures of all 3,000 of Ichiro’s hits in major league baseball and presented it to him during a ceremony prior to Sunday’s game against the Pirates.
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"We spoke to [Marlins owner] Jeffrey Loria and he told us to come up with something creative and different that Ichiro could have with him the rest of his life," Samson said. "Somehow it just came to our minds let’s try to get a picture of all his hits."
The ceremony had originally been planned for Sept. 25 of last season, but was postponed after the sudden death of pitcher Jose Fernandez.
Ichiro appeared to have been a bit emotional upon seeing the eight-and-a-half by four foot framed collage, which weighed approximately 100 pounds.
The collage also had 3,000 painted in orange in big numbers as well as the date August 7, 2016 when Ichiro collected his 3,000th hit in Colorado. Counting his hits while playing in Japan, Ichiro has 4,312 overall.
"Everything Ichiro gets he deserves," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He’s been an amazing player for a long time."
The Marlins gathered their own photos of Ichiro’s hits and obtained the rest with help from Kyodo News, which contributed 2,704 of the photos, as well as The Associated Press, Getty Images, Major League Baseball and the other two teams Ichiro has played for – the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees.
“It looked awesome,” said Tom Koehler, who had some input in the idea behind Ichiro’s gift. “I don't know how big his house is, but he may need a lot of wall space for that one.”
The collage also included 16 "eggs" embedded throughout to signify some of Ichiro’s most notable hits including his first hit, his first home run, as well as his 258th hit of the 2004 season in which he surpassed George Sisler’s single-season record while a member of the Seattle Mariners.
Moments before the presentation, a video montage of Ichiro’s most notable hits during his career including the 3,000th hit played on the big screen in center field at Marlins Park.
Ichiro then watched a recorded congratulatory message on the big screen from Japanese Hall of Famer Sadaharu Oh. He bowed to the screen in gratitude after it played.
"It’s the most emotional I’ve ever seen him," Samson said. "When Mr. Oh was on the board he had a whole different level of emotional. I think he began to understand the significance of his accomplishment, how few players have done it and how beloved he is around the world."
Ichiro has since increased his MLB hits total to 3,034, which ranks 24th all-time. The next-highest on the list is Hall of Famer Rod Carew with 3,053, and the Marlins played a video message from Carew congratulating Ichiro during the third inning of Sunday’s game.
Mattingly said Ichiro is the most disciplined player he’s ever been around and praised his work ethic and the positive influence it has had on the Marlins.
"Even more than hits, it’s just the way he’s out there working, stretching, hitting," Mattingly said. "With him it never stops. Some guys get tired of it or get out of their routine. But Ichiro goes every day and it’s great to watch."
Monday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-1, 4.71 ERA) vs. Tampa Bay Rays TBA, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Tuesday: Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez (0-3, 4.44 ERA) vs. Rays RHP Alex Cobb (1-2, 4.66), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.