Ichiro Suzuki picked up a single in the first inning of the Miami Marlins’ game against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. This is, in and of itself, not notable, as Ichiro has been notching singles like clockwork ever since he came to the United States from Japan.
However, this was still a monumental moment for the 42-year-old outfielder. The single gave him 4,256 hits across Major League Baseball and Japan, which tied him with Pete Rose for career hits.
Then in the ninth inning, Ichiro hit a double, which means he now has more career hits than Rose. Sure, there are those who will point out that the Japanese league is not quite on the same level as the MLB, so at the very least there should be some sort of exchange rate when it comes to Ichiro’s hits.
There is validity to that, but that doesn’t mean what Ichiro has done isn’t incredibly impressive. Plus, unlike Rose (for the time being, at least), Ichiro will be in the Hall of Fame someday.
As legendary as Ichiro is as a baseball player, he’s also legendary as a quote machine. Despite being a native Japanese speaker, Ichiro has entertained us English speaking folks for years with some of his choice bon mots. Here is a collection of some of the best utterances from our ersatz hit king.
On human perception: “I’m told I either look bigger than I do on television or that I look smaller than I look on television. No one seems to think I look the same size.”
On romance: “Chicks who dig home runs aren’t the ones who appeal to me. I think there’s sexiness in infield hits because they require technique. I’d rather impress the chicks with my technique than with my brute strength. Then, every now and then, just to show I can do that, too, I might flirt a little by hitting one out.”
On how to be happy: (In response to Joe Torre allegedly saying “Do not let Ichiro beat you. He is the key to Seattle’s offense.”) “If that is true, it would give me great joy.”
On being an everyman: “I’m not a big guy and hopefully kids could look at me and see that I’m not muscular and not physically imposing, that I’m just a regular guy. So if somebody with a regular body can get into the record books, kids can look at that. That would make me happy.”
On failure: “In baseball, even the best hitters fail seven of ten times, and of those seven failures there are different reasons why. Some are personal failures, others are losses to the pitcher. You just get beat. In those personal failures, I felt I could have done better.”
On Cleveland, and self-harm: “To tell the truth, I’m not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I’m excited going to Cleveland, I’d punch myself in the face, because I’m lying.”
On respecting a dog’s right to privacy: (When asked his dog’s name) “I do not have the dog’s permission.”
On Daisuke Matsuzaka, somehow: “I hope he arouses the fire that’s dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger.”
On disappointment, and female bowling: “It’s the same if you were to meet a beautiful girl and go bowling. If she’s an ugly bowler, you are going to be disappointed.”
On Bret Boone: “But when I met him, he was kind of a human being that you would never meet in Japan. So, whenever I was around him, I almost felt like I was witnessing a creature, not a human being. It was fun for me to watch him.”
On his favorite American expression, and, in a way, America: “August in Kansas City it is hotter than two rats f*cking in a wool sock.”
On advice: “If I’m in a slump, I ask myself for advice.”
On locomotion: “I’ll walk on my hands before I use crutches.”
On the tyranny of Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay: “Now, that [my home run total] is not a zero, maybe Michael Kay will be easy on me.”
On death bed memories: “This is a special experience to play with Jeter and the Yankees. When I am an old man I will look back and say, ‘What an experience that was to be on this team’…That is what I envision it will be like when I get close to dying.”
On unknown, but important quotes: Ichiro was known to provide inspiration to his American League teammates by essentially spewing forth a collection of swear words and vulgarities. He did this for many years, but nobody ever thought to transcribe the words so that future generations could enjoy it. The essence of Ichiro, as a ball player and as a man, can be found in the stories told about these speeches, so they must be mentioned, even if we can’t actually quote any of the speeches.