Sun, Oct 03, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Ichiro Suzuki achieves record

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL Suzuki set the major league record for hits in a season, breaking George Sisler's 84-year-old mark with a pair of singles against the Rangers

AP , SEATTLE, MARINERSAP, CHICAGO

Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki, center, is congratulated by manager Bob Melvin and teammates after getting his 258th hit of the season during the third inning off Rangers' pitcher Ryan Drese in Seattle on Friday. The hit broke George Sisler's 84-year-old record.

PHOTO: AP

No. 258 for Ichiro Suzuki was like so many others, a little ground ball up the middle.

Only this one made history -- a hit cheered 'round the world.

Suzuki set the major league record for hits in a season Friday, breaking George Sisler's 84-year-old mark with a pair of early singles as the Seattle Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 8-3.

"Through my career, I think this is the best moment," Suzuki said through an interpreter. "I can't really put it into words."

Suzuki later got another hit, giving him 259 this season and a major league-leading .373 average.

Suzuki chopped a leadoff single in the first inning, then put himself in the record book with a bouncer in the third.

Fireworks exploded after Suzuki's big hit reached the outfield, creating a haze over Safeco Field, and his teammates mobbed him at first base.

With fans still cheering, Suzuki ran to the first-base seats and shook hands with Sisler's 81-year-old daughter, Frances Sisler Drochelman, and other members of the Hall of Famer's family.

"My father would have been delighted," Drochelman said later. "He would be so happy to know such a fine young man was doing so well."

Fans booed when plate umpire Joe West called a rare third strike on Suzuki in the eighth. Reliever Michael Tejera got the strikeout.

But fans were back on their feet when Suzuki left for substitute Hiram Bocachica with two outs in the ninth. Mariners manager Bob Melvin made the move to let Suzuki get one more ovation, and the right fielder jogged in to cheers.

Sisler set the hits record in 1920 with the St. Louis Browns over a 154-game schedule. Suzuki broke it in the Mariners' 160th game of the year.

Suzuki's first two hits came off Ryan Drese (14-10), boosting Suzuki to 10-for-20 lifetime against him. Suzuki's sixth-inning infield single came off John Wasdin.

Drese ran the count full in the third, and Suzuki hit a bouncer up the middle, out of the reach of shortstop Michael Young. As the cheers got louder, Teixeira shook Suzuki's hand at first base.

After Suzuki's 258th hit, he scored his 100th run of the season when the Mariners batted around in the third, taking a 6-2 lead on six hits. Suzuki batted twice, hitting a long fly ball that Laynce Nix caught on the run for the third out.

There was a scary moment for Suzuki in the top of the third. The Gold Glove right fielder chased a foul ball by Ken Huckaby that landed in the stands, and casually hopped up on the low, padded fence -- but then lost his balance.

Suzuki fell awkwardly and came down straddling the fence, but was OK.

"I was very excited tonight. Maybe I was going along with that. I'm glad nothing happened," he said.

The crowd was on its feet and players in both dugouts were standing at the top rail when Suzuki led off the bottom of the first. He quickly matched Sisler's mark, bouncing a single over the head of third baseman Hank Blalock.

Fans chanted "I-chi-ro! I-chi-ro!" and he acknowledged the ovation, briefly taking off his batting helmet.

Each member of the Sisler family was in high spirits, fully expecting Suzuki to claim the record over the weekend.

"I'd be totally shocked if Ichiro didn't get it," grandson Bo Drochelman said. "We're here to celebrate baseball and my grandfather."

Suzuki's first-inning single was his 919th hit in the majors, breaking the record for most hits over a four-year span. Bill Terry of the New York Giants set the previous record of 918 hits from 1929-1932. Suzuki has 921 hits in four seasons.

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