Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Ichiro has tied Babe Ruth on the all-time hits list and nobody's more excited than everyone in Japan

Ichiro ties Babe Ruth on hits list, Japan loves it

"The Sandlot" taught us that heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Babe Ruth and Ichiro Suzuki both qualify as the latter.

During Monday's D-backs-Marlins game, Ichiro notched the 2,873rd hit of his MLB career, moving into a tie with The Colossus of Clout (THE COLOSSUS OF CLOUT!) for 42nd place on the all-time list.

"Obviously when you think of Babe Ruth, he's a home run hitter," Ichiro told's Steve Miller. "I never seen him play and don't know too much about him. For me, I'm just such a different type of player. I like to get hits and use my legs to get different types of hits and obviously he's hitting home runs."

Even as Suzuki sets his sights on sole possession of 41st place and then on guys like Mel Ott, Omar Vizquel, Frankie Frisch and Zack Wheat (all within reach over the next few weeks) and, eventually, the almighty 3,000 mark, people in Japan are tweeting about the fact that he's matched The Babe.

That's because -- while Ruth has been and always will be an icon in the States -- the guy is also HUGE in Japan. He was the headliner of a 1934 All-Star tour of the Far East where he served as an ambassador for more than just the sport:

"…Ruth, the jovial demigod of baseball, brought the two nations together and forestalled talks of war, before becoming a symbol in Japan of American decadence," writes Robert K. Fitts in his book "Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage, & Assassination During the 1934 Tour of Japan", published in 2012.


The Sultan of Swat was revered for his athletic ability and the good will he demonstrated during that '34 tour of Japan, so much so that he was unofficially annointed as the face of American culture. At the time of the tour, baseball in Japan was mostly restricted to the high school and collegiate level. Two years later, the Japanese Baseball League was born, which eventually reorganized to become what we know as NPB.

Sadaharu Oh -- the greatest player in the history of Japanese baseball -- earned the nickname "The Japanese Babe Ruth." 

And now, the greatest Japanese player to ever wear an MLB uniform has equaled the American deity of the sport in career hits. A momentus day, indeed.

Read More: Miami MarlinsIchiro Suzuki