In 1994, in his first full pro season, Ichiro had 210 hits for the Orix BlueWave, setting a Nippon Professional Baseball record. No previous NPB player ever had 200 hits in a single season, which, until that time, lasted only 130 games. That works out to 1.615 hits per game, an average he bettered with the M’s in 2004 with 1.617 hits per game (not to mention in a longer 162-game season, in which he played in just 161 games). Although his 262 hits in ’04 topped George Sisler’s 257 hits in ’20, Sisler’s former MLB record was set during a 154-game season, averaging a head-spinning 1.67 hits per game. Just imagine: had Sisler maintained that per-game hit average over a 162-game season, he’d’ve wound up 270 hits.
In any case, Ichro got lei’d, possibly by BlueWave mascot Neppie, off to the side in the above pics. Below, a genuine commemorative autographed something-or-other…
Since Ichiro’s record-breaking 1994 season, four other NPB players have reached the 200-hit plateau, though some (or all?) have happened during an expanded 144-game NPB season.
Regardless, Ichiro’s 210 hits in 1994 remains the NPB single-season record. Ichiro’s record was broken in 2010 with a 214-hit campaign by Matt Murton of the Hanshin Tigers, albeit in a 144-game season… Thanks to commenter Richard for setting me straight!