Sometime this week, or maybe the next, Ichiro Suzuki of the Miami Marlins will break Pete Rose’s hallowed record for most career hits.
Before you get excited, there are caveats to that, of course. Ichiro only breaks the record if you include the 1278 he got while playing in Japan. And, if you’re going to do that, you might as well include Pete’s 400-500 hits from minor league teams. But if you’re going to do THAT, you have to take into account that the Japanese league plays significantly fewer games than the US each season. But then … and then …
I get it. This isn’t a debate about who holds the record. Rather, it’s a conversation about records in general.
Most Reds fans who were alive at the time, know where they were when Pete broke the record. We remember it like it was yesterday.
It was a cool evening. I remember that. It was one of the first evenings in early Fall when the temperature had dropped a bit and the humidity had evaporated enough for us to open the back door to the house, allowing for a full view of the woods behind, which had only just begun to change colors. We had the Reds game on the tv with the volume turned down, and the radio tuned to 700 WLW so we could listen to Marty and Joe call the game.
I sat on the living room floor, watching and listening as Rose stepped to the plate. It was his first at-bat of the game, and I was so nervous and petting the family dog – a beagle named Murphy – so vociferously, I practically pulled his ears out of his head. He loved that.
The crowd rose to its feet as Eric Show when into his windup. Marty called it. “Rose levels the bat. Show kicks and he fires, Rose swings and…”
And the stadium erupted, with Joe Nuxhall screaming, “That’s it! There it is! Get down!” as the ball dropped into the outfield for a hit. My family erupted as well, even my sister who never really liked baseball all that much. It was a wonderful moment; one I will remember the rest of my life.
That doesn’t happen much anymore. When Rose broke Ty Cobb’s record (yes, I know he ACTUALLY broke it in Chicago, but we didn’t know that back then), it seemed like the whole world watched. Even if you think Ichiro is light years away from breaking Rose’s record, he IS bearing down on 3000 hits and, earlier this season, eclipsed 500 stolen bases. A-Rod is 6 homeruns away from being only the third player in history to hit 700 homeruns and, if not for a recent power slump following a hamstring injury, could very well have passed Babe Ruth this season.
Now, with Ichiro on the verge of breaking Rose’s record, the biggest sports stories in the news are lingering Muhamad Ali tributes, a few side stories about the Olympics, and what kind of shoes Steph Curry is wearing.
Why is that? Why don’t the records, the big numbers, capture our attention?
Ichiro Suzuki will break Pete Rose’s record soon. I hope a few people at least will be watching.