Google+ Badge

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pete Rose -- The Greatest Unnatural Talent?

No one ever played baseball, or in my opinion is presently playing baseball, like Charlie Hustle, Peter Edward Rose. His father, Harry Rose, who once played semi-pro football, pushed his son into athletics at an early age. One day, the story goes, Harry went to the store to buy a pair of shoes for his daughter and came back with a pair of boxing gloves for Pete. From then on, sports dominated Pete's life. Rose became the champion of the man with the least natural ability overhauling himself into one of the most productive players of the game. Also, he is widely credited by baseball professionals and fans as the man with the greatest work ethic and most boundless enthusiasm to ever play major league baseball. His aggressive style of play won the hearts of millions of baseball fans everywhere. On the day he graduated from high school in June 1960, Rose signed a professional contract with the Reds. They offered him seven thousand dollars to play in the minor leagues. Rose made his Major League debut on April 8, Opening Day, 1963, against the Pittsburgh Pirates and drew a walk. On April 13, Rose – who was 0-for-11 at the time – got his first Major League hit. He hit .273 for the year and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, collecting 17 of 20 votes. Pete entered the Ohio Army National Guard after the 1963 baseball season. He was assigned to Fort Know for six months of active duty, which was followed by three years of regular attendance with a Reserve Unit at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. Pete Rose, later dubbed "The Hit King," played Major League Baseball for twenty-three years. His list of accomplishments during that stint is staggering. Rose remains the major league all-time hit leader (4,256), all-time games played leader (3,562), and all-time at bat leader (14,053). Also, Rose holds major league records for playing in the most winning games (1,972), most seasons with 100 or more games played (23), most seasons with at least 100 hits (23), most career total bases by a switch hitter (5,752), and the only player in major league history to play more than 500 games at five different positions - 1B (939), LF (671), 3B (634), 2B (628), RF (595). Pete won three World Series rings, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, two Gold Gloves, and the Rookie of the Year Award. He made 17 All-Star Game appearances at an unequaled five different positions (2B, LF, RF, 3B and 1B). The most prolific switch-hitter in history, he is the only player to play 500 games at five different positions and was named the Player of the Decade for the 1970s by TSN. Rose compiled a 44 game hitting streak (1978), a modern National League record and tied for the second longest streak in Major League Baseball history. Rose was also was the youngest player to attain three thousand hits, a feat that he accomplished on May 5, 1978. Rose, renowned for his trot to first base after a walk and his headfirst slide into a base, also garnered the 1968 Hutch Award, the 1969 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, the 1975 World Series MVP Award, the 1975 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award, the 1975 Sporting News Man of the Year Award, the 1976 Roberto Clemente Award, and the 1985 ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year Award. Rose's endurance was an impressive testament to his determination. Many have given Pete acclaim as the greatest hustler in the game who worked harder than anybody else and played the game the "right way." Others believe that Rose was the ultimate team player, that he put more heart and soul into the game of baseball than any other man ever has and ever will. He served as manager of the Cincinnati Reds from 1985 to 1988, helping the Reds to four consecutive second place finishes, and to this day is considered one of the best managers in baseball. On August 24, 1989, Rose voluntarily accepted a permanent place on baseball’s ineligible list for allegedly gambling on baseball. Rose accepted that there was a factual reason for the ban; in return, Major League Baseball agreed to make no formal finding with regard to gambling allegations. In 1991, the Hall of Fame officially voted to exclude ineligible players from entering the Hall of Fame. Due to this, “Charlie Hustle,” the only living ineligible baseball player, has been excluded from baseball’s highest honor. In 1999, despite MLB's official ban on Rose for gambling on baseball, it was willing to ask him to participate in commercial promotions like the All-Century Team that benefited MLB. Earlier that season, Rose had been ranked at number 25 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. Still, MLB refused to allow him to participate in local events in Cincinnati such as the 25th anniversary reunion of the Big Red Machine, the closing of Cinergy Field, and the opening of the Great American Ballpark. On January 8, 2004, in his autobiography, My Prison Without Bars, Rose finally admitted publicly to betting on baseball games and other sports while playing for and managing the Reds. He also admitted to betting on Reds games, but said that he never bet against the Reds. Always colorful and considered arrogant off the field my some, Rose remains somewhat bitter that Major League Baseball has dealt with crimes such as drug abuse and domestic violence with penalties less severe than gambling addiction. Pete Rose is often quoted in baseball lore and in pop culture. Unfortunately, he is remembered as much or more for his banishment from the sport he loves as for his amazing on-the-field contributions. "I'd walk through hell in a gasoline suit to keep playing baseball." -Pete Rose
"It's a round ball and a round bat, and you got to hit it square." -Pete Rose
"Does Pete Rose hustle? Before the All-Star game he came into the clubhouse and took off his shoes and they ran another mile without him." - Hank Aaron

"He is Cincinnati. He's the Reds." -Sparky Anderson

"I think just about everybody ought to get a second chance and I'd like to see it worked out, because he brought a lot of joy to the game, and he gave a lot of joy to people, and he's paid a price - God knows, he's paid a price." - Bill Clinton

And, in a somewhat prophetic and ironically phrased quote that may apply to any chance Pete Rose has of making the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, Brian Williams relates: "I will remember Pete Rose one way. Horizontal." –Brian Williams, actually speaking of Rose's aggressive style of play.
Post a Comment