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Tony Gwynn talks about Ichiro's 4000 professional hits

My notes from Gwynn's interview with Darren Smith.

Rich Schultz

Tony Gwynn interview with Darren Smith (MP3)

  • "Ichiro is a great hitter. He's done some things in the game that have never been done before, but you can't combine his hits in the Japanese league with his hits in the Major Leagues.  Yeah, okay he's gotten to 4000, but to compare him with Pete Rose or Ty Cobb or put him in the same category with those two guys?  I don't think it's right, but I understand it."
  • Gwynn says we should be celebrating the fact that he's gotten to his number of major league hits faster than anyone else.  "He's in a class all by himself, nobody has gotten there as quickly as he has."
  • "As far as I'm concerned he's got two thousand seven hundred and whatever." -Tony Gwynn
    The Padres and Mariners shared a Spring Training Complex in Gwynn's last year and Ichiro's first. Gwynn thought it'd take a few years for him to figure out American pitching but it didn't.
  • There was a sentiment in the Major Leagues at the time that they hoped Ichiro would fail.  Japanese hitters weren't getting the same respect as guys from Latin American countries.  Ichiro changed that.
  • "Ichiro's style is completely different than anybody I've ever seen.  His bat control is better than anyone I've ever seen." 
  • Gwynn always thought that he had to be able to do other stuff well as a "Punch and Judy" hitter and Ichiro brought all kinds of stuff to the table.
  • Gwynn heard criticism that he was a selfish hitter because he wouldn't walk.  Ichiro may get the same criticism.  "I'm sure he's heard that a lot in his career."  Brett Boone told Gwynn that Ichiro's Mariners teammates would make critical comments thinking Ichiro wouldn't understand or hear about it, but it would get back to him.  Jack Clark's critical comments to Gwynn hurt, but helped him grow up.
  • Ichiro will "absolutely" go to the Hall of Fame eventually.
  • "You just can't combine his Japanese hits and say he's a 4000 hit guy. I don't."  "Again, that's not a knock, I get it."
  • Gwynn watched ESPN last night and they had Ichiro in front of Cobb and Rose and Gwynn groaned.