An Introduction to the Legends of Baseball
| Hank Aaron
| Yogi Berra
| Ty Cobb
| Joe DiMaggio
Lou Gehrig | Rogers Hornsby | Mickey Mantle | Willie Mays | Stan Musial | Cal Ripken Jr
Jackie Robinson | Pete Rose | Babe Ruth | Ted Williams | Cy Young | The Baseball Hall of Fame
Somebody's gotta win and somebody's gotta lose and I believe in letting the other guy lose.
- Pete Rose.
Pete Rose has become one of the most controversial figures of baseball. He enjoyed a stellar career through 24 seasons that seemed destined to lead to enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. His hitting was among the strongest in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. He hit a record 4,256 career hits, beating Ty Cobb's record of 4,189. He is also the career leader in singles, at-bats and games played. Rose is often compared to Ty Cobb, who is often considered the best baseball player of all time. In fact, Cobb and Rose are extremely similar in many ways.
But he isn't in the Hall of Fame, and possibly never will be. Why? In 1989, allegations arose that Rose was gambling on his own baseball team, a grievous offence in the World of Baseball. He challenged these charges until August 24, 1989 when he accepted a lifetime suspension from baseball, and in return Major League baseball agreed not to announce the findings of its investigations.
Pete Rose's expulsion from baseball and the Hall of Fame inspired a polarisation of opinion amongst the Baseball community. Players and fans appear to be split between support for him and contempt for him with almost nobody admitting to unconcern. The only point of agreement seems to be his obvious qualifications for entry into the Hall of Fame. Many think that his suspension is irrelevant, but Major League Baseball may never allow Pete Rose in.
His Life and Career
Peter Edward Rose was born 14 April, 1941 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, Harry Rose, who played semipro baseball, encouraged his participation in sports. Pete played with his friends and eventually on the local Little League and High School baseball teams as well.
After graduation from High School, Pete signed a deal with the Cincinnati Reds. He was assigned to play on a minor league team in Geneva, New York. He quickly improved as a player and played on various minor league teams in Florida and Georgia until 1963. He then went to Spring Training with the intention of becoming a Cincinnati Red.
Rose was put on second base for the Reds in the 1963 season. He played with vigour and worked hard at his game. That year, Hall of Famer Whitney Ford nicknamed him 'Charlie Hustle', a name that Rose would be known by for many years. In his Rookie season, he hit a respectable .273 and participated in nearly every game. He was given the Rookie of the Year Award for his hard work.
Rose had a bit of a slump in the late months of the 1964 season. His average was a disappointing for a second year player, only at .269. He was benched for much of late 1964, but rebounded in 1965. That year, he hit .312 and led his league in hits and at-bats.
In 1966, Rose hit 16 homers - the best home run record he would get in a season. In 1967, Rose was moved from his position at second base to right field. In 1968, he had two hitting streaks, a 22 game streak followed closely by a 19 game streak. In 1969, Rose and Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente were tied for the National League batting title in a dramatic race. In the last game of the season, Rose hit a bunt that secured him the title.
In 1970, Rose won the All Star game for the National League. To win this game Rose made an infamous slide in the 12th inning where he went into catcher Ray Fosse hard and dislocated his shoulder1. Many people lost interest in supporting Rose after this, as they thought he played too hard, especially in an exhibition game. That was his style, he always played hard. 'I don't mind lazy players', he said, 'as long as they're on the other side'. He also led the Reds to their first World Series appearance in his career. They lost to Baltimore, however.
In 1972, he was moved to left field and led the league in at-bats and hits again. He led the Reds to another World Series in 1972, but didn't do particularly well in the Series and the Reds again lost, this time to Oakland. Rose won MVP in 1973 when he hit .338 to win his third batting title and had a career-high 230 hits.
Rose ran into a bit of a slump in 1974. That year, he hit only .284 and hit only three home runs, 185 hits and 51 RBI. He did lead the National League in runs with 110 however. The following year, Rose was moved to third base when rookie Ken Griffey joined the team. Griffey and Rose helped lead the Reds in 1975 to their first World Series victory in many years. Rose was named the 1975 World Series Most Valuable Player for a .370 average and ten hits in the series. Following after 1975's victory, the 1976 Reds won the World Series again, despite no great contribution from Rose.
In 1978, Rose made one of the last real attempts to overthrow Joe DiMaggio's record 56 game hitting streak. His streak lasted for 44 games, one of the longest streaks that a National League player ever hit. On 5 May, 1978, Rose made his 3,000 hit making him the youngest player to make 3,000 hits. He finished the season with a .302 batting average and 198 hits.
After the 1978 season, Rose dissolved his affiliation with the Cincinnati Reds and became a free agent. During the off-season, there was a bidding war for his signature and he ended signing for the Philadelphia Phillies to play first base. In 1979, he hit a .331 batting average and 208 runs.
In 1980, despite a disappointing .282 average, he led the Phillies to the World Series and helped them win it for the first time in their history. In fact, in the last game of the series, in the last inning, with the bases loaded for the Kansas City Royals, a fly ball popped out of the catcher's glove but Rose luckily caught it before it hit the ground. If he hadn't caught it, there was a possibility that they could have lost the Series.
In 1981, Rose turned 40 years old and doubts were setting in as to how long he could keep on hitting. He had been in the Major Leagues for 18 years, and had 15 consecutive seasons with a batting average above .300. 1981 was the last of this series, with a .325 average. Rose wanted to defeat Ty Cobb's record of 4,192 hits, and the question of whether he would be able to do so caught the public's attention. On 10 August, the day after a players strike ended, Rose passed Stan Musial as the National League's leader in career hits.
In 1982, he hit .271, and .245 in 1983. In 1983, his contract with the Phillies ran out and Rose had to leave them in favour of a more youthful team. Rose signed with the Montreal Expos, who were in need of an big attraction to boost ticket sales. On 13 April, 1984 Rose hit his 4,000th hit. But the Expos benched him for a poor record in the middle of the season. On 16 August, 1984, Rose was traded back to the Cincinnati Reds and batted .365. He was also named as manager of the team as well.
By 1985, it was clear that Rose would soon pass Cobb as the all time hit leader. On 11 September, 57 years to the day of Cobb's final game, he hit a single - his 4,193 hit. A sellout crowd of 47,237 applauded for seven minutes, reducing Pete to tears. That year, he hit .264 with 107 hits. In 1986, at the age of 45 Rose made his last appearance in a Major League game, but continued to manage the Reds.
In 1989, after the Reds had finished in second place in their division for the fourth consecutive season, Rose was close to being fired as manager. Rose was then accused of being in debt for gambling on his own team - one of the greatest offences a major leaguer can commit. In February 1989, Rose met baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth before an investigation. Rose said 'You can read anything you want into it, but I don't see anything bad'.
In March, less than a month after Rose met with the commissioner, it was announced that Rose was under investigation, but for what the public was not told. On 24 August, 1989, many weeks of legal talk ended with Pete Rose's official lifetime ban from Major League baseball. He was replaced by Tommy Helms as the Reds manager.
On 20 April, 1990 Rose was sentenced to five months in jail, 1,000 hours of community service and a 500,000 dollar fine for filing false tax returns. Starting 8 August, 1990 Rose served his five month sentence at Marion Prison in Illinois. He was released on 7 January, 1991 and began his community service in Cincinnati schools.
On 4 February, 1991 the Hall of Fame board of directors voted to keep Rose off the ballot. On 7 January, 1992 when two players were elected into the Hall of Fame, 41 write-in votes were cast for Rose. Since his ban, Rose has applied for reinstatement and even started a petition. He will only be eligible to get into the Hall of Fame if he is reinstated by December 2005.
In 1995 former President of the United States Jimmy Carter wrote an open letter to a newspaper asking forgiveness for Rose.
In December 1999, Rose launched a revitalised campaign to be reinstated by claiming to have evidence that he didn't bet on his own team. He wants to be elected into the Hall of Fame and to manage a Major League team again.
Not everyone likes Rose though. Many hold grudges with him for his sometimes erratic behaviour in the Major Leagues.
Many have also questioned the evidence upon which he was banned. It is not conclusive, and Rose didn't admit it in his agreement to be suspended. It is clear however that he had a gambling problem, because just after he was released from prison, Rose saw a psychiatrist about this weakness.
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