"More than the number 3,000 itself," Ichiro said through a translator, "when I saw the teammates come out and how happy they were and how warm the fans were, it's not about just the 3,000 and what I did, it's about my teammates and my fans. That's powerful today."
In his professional career, Ichiro has 4,278 hits -- 1,278 in Japan and 3,000 in Major League Baseball. Pete Rose, MLB's Hit King, finished his career with 4,256 hits in the big leagues.
Ichiro's hit tied him with Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente for 29th all-time and made him just the second player to collect 3,000 hits after turning 27. Rose recorded 3,353 of his hits after turning 27. Ichiro, 42, joins Hall of Famers Cap Anson (45) and Rickey Henderson (42) as the only players who were 42 or older when they recorded career hit No. 3,000.
"I haven't seen anyone else get 3,000," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I'm sure there have been some no-hitters and things like that, but this guy has been amazing for the game. What he's been able to accomplish, coming over when he was 27, what he's been able to do is pretty amazing."
Ichiro was hitless in his first three at-bats on Sunday, striking out and grounding out against starter Jon Gray and grounding out against Rusin. He walked in his final plate appearance, against left-hander Jake McGee in the ninth.
"I remember watching him growing up as a kid," Rusin said. "Sitting on the couch in high school. To be the guy that pitched his 3,000 hit, it's crazy to be a part of it."
Ichiro's quest for 3,000 moved quickly for a while, but became drawn out for the 10-time All-Star.
The hope was that he would reach the benchmark during Miami's recent 10-game homestand, but Ichiro needed four hits in that stretch and ended up going 2-for-17, and the countdown turned to Wrigley Field, where he went hitless in two pinch-hit appearances before heading to Denver.
Still, each Ichiro at-bat has become an event, and interest in the milestone has intensified, as a large contingent of Japanese media members -- sometimes as many as 50-60 -- have attended each game for weeks, compared to the 6-8 who regularly follow the club. Fans have also followed the quest from park to park.
"It took a long time for me," Ichiro said. "Obviously I've been feeling this for the past two weeks, and not getting an opportunity to get in there, getting a pinch-hit every night, that was tough. For me, I feel like I should have gotten this two years ago."
In his second season with the Marlins, Ichiro entered 2016 just 65 hits shy of 3,000. Early in the year, it was evident that he was re-energized, and he's been a highly productive fourth outfielder and pinch-hitter.
After playing nine seasons in his native Japan, Ichiro began his MLB career with the Mariners in 2001. His impact was immediate as he was an American League All-Star, Rookie of the Year and MVP.
A 10-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, Ichiro set the MLB single-season hits mark of 262, passing George Sisler, in 2004.
Ichiro's first big league hit came on April 2, 2001, a double, off T.J. Mathews of the A's. His 1,000th hit was a single off Jon Lieber of the Phillies on June 14, 2005, and No. 2,000 -- a double -- came against Gio Gonzalez, then with the A's, on Sept. 9, 2009.
"When I got my first hit as a big leaguer, I felt good for myself," Ichiro said. "Today when I got my 3,000th hit, I was happy, but I was happy for the people around me, for the people that have supported me and have cheered me on. I really felt that today."
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.