Originally written on Bush League Chronicle  |  Last updated 9/23/14

24 Oct 1999: Pete Rose of the All Century Team is interviewed by the press before the World Series game two between the New York Yankees the Atlanta Braves at the Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. The Yankees defeated the Braves 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport
On Wednesday, New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki joined an elite club by notching his 4,000th career hit in professional baseball.It is certainly no small feat to record that many hits over a career even if about one-third of them were amassed while playing in Japan.In fact, Ichiro recorded 1,278 hits in Japan's top baseball league, with the other 2,722 coming while playing in Major League Baseball.Could Ichiro ever catch up to baseball's all-time hit king Pete Rose? Rose doesn't think so and became quite defensive when discussing the matter on Thursday."He's still 600 hits away from catching [teammate] Derek Jeter,'' Rose told USA TODAY Sports, "so how can he catch me?''Rose's 4,256 career hits stand as the most in MLB history. But the 72-year-old believes he should have more if people want to count Ichiro's hits in Japan. Namely, all of the hits he compiled in the minor leagues."Hey, if we're counting professional hits,'' says Rose, "then add on my 427 career hits in the minors. I was a professional then, too.Rose says he has nothing against Japanese baseball, though."I'm not here to knock Japanese baseball,'' Rose says. "I respect the way they play, the way they practice and I just wish more good players would come over here and play."When he came here, he was already an established hitter. If he had spent his first eight seasons in the states, who knows how many hits he would have? Everyone's got an opinion.''If Ichiro ever does pass Rose's record mark, the latter says he will do everything he can to get back on the field and regain the hit crown."If people consider him to have the record if he gets to 4,257 hits,'' Rose says, "I'll come back and play if I'm reinstated. I'm sure even at my age I can hit a 15-hopper up the middle and crawl to first base for a hit.''Despite what it may sound like, Rose does have an admiration for Ichiro, dubbing him as one of the greatest hitters of the modern era."Listen, if I'm voting today for the Hall of Fame,'' Rose says, "Ichiro has got my vote. He's got the [10] Gold Gloves. The golden arm. A lot of hits. There's really nothing wrong with his game."I wouldn't even make him wait five years, I'll tell you that.''Ichiro may never be considered the true hit king, but as it stands now, he may receive an even greater honor by earning induction into the Hall of Fame down the road. That is something Rose may not be able to accomplish anytime soon or maybe even in his lifetime.Via USA TODAY
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