It Was Seven Years Ago Today: Hit #258

October 1, 2004 marked the single greatest achievement of Ichiro’s career, when he became baseball’s all-time single-season hit leader. Eliza and I were among the sellout crowd of 45,573 at Safeco Field on that chilly Friday night, the 160th Mariner game of the season. Despite the team’s last-place standing,  the ballpark had an electric, playoff-like atmosphere.

In the first inning, Ichiro singled to left for his 257th hit of the year, tying George Sisler’s 84-year-old record. In the third he lined a single to center, breaking Sisler’s record with hit #258. The crowd roared, Ichiro’s teammates rushed out of the dugout to congratulate him, and fireworks exploded overhead. Ichiro walked over to the stands to shake hands with members of the Sisler family (George Sisler died in March 1973, seven months before Ichiro was born). Frances Sisler Drochelman, Sisler’s 81-year-old daughter (who wasn’t even alive yet when Sisler set his record) congratulates Ichiro…

“He [Sisler] would be proud of Ichiro,” she later commented. “He would be delighted to know what a fine person he is.”

He also addressed the crowd, with commish Bud Selig standing by…

Doffing his helmet…

After the contest resumed, Ichiro upped the record to 259 with an infield single in the sixth. Following the game, he remarked: “It’s definitely the most emotional I have gotten in my life… It’s definitely the highlight of my career.”

The following day, he hit #260, and the day after that, in the season finale on Sunday October 3, he had two more hits (Eliza and I were at that one too). The new single-season hit standard was now 262, where it’s remained ever since.

Check out these fan photos from that historic night.

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