It’s unclear whether it’s more impressive that William Henry “Wee Willie” Keeler‘s century-long record was matched, as it was by Ichiro Suzuki Wednesday, Sept. 17, or the fact that Wikipedia noted the feat even before the 5-2 Seattle Mariners road loss to the Kansas City Royals was final.
Picking up two singles and a double, Ichiro reached the 200-hit mark for the eighth consecutive season, equaling a Keeler run many thought would never be matched. If the greatest Japanese player in history picks up another 200 again next year, the unprecedented accomplishment alone would seem to secure his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The fact that the Wiki-biographers recorded the historic update before some sportswriters even could bat out a blog entry is a testimony to the vigilance of Internet scribes.
Just as impressive, in retrospect, is the fact that Suzuki would get his eighth-straight 200-hit season given a 2008 campaign in which he struggled at the plate (as did many of his teammates) for the first few months and, as recently as late August, seemed to be at risk for not achieving the minimum of what his fans have come to expect from him. Such an expectation hasn’t seemed excessive for a player who won both the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards after his maiden 2001 season and, four years ago, recorded the most hits per season (262) of any player in history. Last year he was MVP of the All-Star Game, in which he has played in each of his big-league seasons.
After the Wednesday game, Ichiro told Seattle reporter Shannon Drayer via an interpreter that tying the Keeler mark had, in fact, been his greatest personal goal this year. He said the pursuit of tying the record had been “not relaxing at all” and that, upon equaling the Keeler standard, he had emitted “a big sigh.”
Drayer ended her chat with him by suggesting that maybe he could repeat the 200-hit feat next season.
“I’ll do my best,” he said.
One imagines that, if Ichiro’s best is any indication, this means Wikipedia’s historians will have some updating to record one night next year at this time.