There were a lot of people in Japan who awoke early April 3, 2001 (the night of April 2 in the U.S.), with a mix of anticipation and wonder as they watched new Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki’s first game in the major leagues. Ichiro was hitless after three at-bats. Then, in the seventh, he grounded a ball back up he middle past Oakland Athletics pitcher TJ Mathews, who stabbed at it with his glove, and shortstop Miguel Tejada for a single.
Japanese fans have been along for the ride ever since, from Ichiro’s time with the Mariners, Yankees, and now as a 42-year-old with the Marlins, celebrating each milestone reached. They were cheering again on Monday morning in Japan (Sunday afternoon in Denver, where the Marlins faced the Colorado Rockies), when Ichiro hit a triple to record the 3,000th hit of his MLB career, one of the most celebrated accomplishments in a sport that values history like none other.