Ichiro Suzuki didn’t play his first Major League game until he was 27.
But the Japanese baseball legend continues to make up for lost time. With a pair of singles on Thursday, Suzuki passed Rod Carew to become the Majors’ all-time leader in hits by a foreign-born player with No. 3,054.
“When I got to 3,000 hits, he wrote me a letter,” Suzuki said. “I know he’s not feeling well. But he wrote me a letter.”
Carew, a native of Panama, underwent a heart and kidney transplant in December.
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Suzuki said he met Carew a number of years back.
“Usually, a lot of players who have played in the past, when they retire and look back, they look at the game today and think the game is easy,” Suzuki said through his interpreter. “But I felt that he was not one of those. He is a really nice man. It was very special for me to be able to pass Rod Carew, so that was more special for me today.”
Suzuki set the record at Busch Stadium when he singled off Cardinals reliever Brett Cecil in the eighth inning. Suzuki moved into 24th on the Majors’ all-time list for hits, leaving him one behind Rickey Henderson.
“It is always amazing,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Suzuki’s latest achievement. “You start thinking about (his) age, the shape he’s in. He’s still competing at this level and being productive.”
Said the 43-year-old Suzuki: “I think when I’m done playing and I look back, think of the good memories, maybe this is one of those. But that’s tough to do now, still playing.”