Pete Rose Controversy: All-Time Hits King Says Ichiro's 4,000 Mark Is Bogus Because His Stats in Japan Shouldn't Count
Pete Rose has tried in earnest to get back in Major League Baseball's good graces in recent months. But his mouth keeps getting in the way, this time involving Ichiro.
Ichiro Suzuki, the New York Yankees outfielder, reached the 4,000-hit mark for his baseball career - which includes 1,278 hits while playing professionally in Japan.
Rose, however, discounted Ichiro's accomplishment in an interview Thursday with USA TODAY Sports. Rose, who is serving a lifelong ban from Major League Baseball, is the sport's all-time hits leader with 4,256.
Rose told USA TODAY Sports that he believes Ichiro's number should be 2,722 - the number of hits he has during his MLB career, and nothing more.
"He's still 600 hits away from catching [teammate] Derek Jeter,'' Rose said, "so how can he catch me?
"Hey, if we're counting professional hits,'' Rose told the publication, "then add on my 427 career hits in the minors. I was a professional then, too. If you look at the records, Henry Aaron has 4,000 professional hits. So did Stan Musial."
Rose compared Suzuki's stats to that of Sadaharu Oh, a Japanese baseball player who surpassed Hank Aaron's home run record when he held it.
"I don't want to take anything away from (Suzuki),'' Rose said, "but does anybody remember making a big deal when Henry Aaron had 755 homers and Sadaharu Oh passed him? Are we now supposed to count Warren Moon's passing yards in the Canadian Football League to his NFL career stats?
"When you compare yourself to me, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Nap Lajoie, we all did it in the states.''
Rose tried to soften his stance on Ichiro, calling him one of the greatest hitters of his generation.
"Listen, if I'm voting today for the Hall of Fame,'' Rose says, "Ichiro has got my vote. He's got the  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.''
Rose, who still is hoping to have his lifetime ban from baseball lifted, recently said he'd rather have beaten his wife or girlfriend than have bet on baseball games, meaning that the other transgression wouldn't have earned him a lifetime ban.
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