Peter Edward Rose was born in Cincinnati
on April 14, 1941. Signed immediately out of high school, Rose went on to become one of the best hitters in major league history in terms of sheer numbers. Pete Rose has more hits
(14,053), and singles (3,215) than any other player in major league history. The switch-hitting Rose played 500 games at five different positions (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF), and was a 17 time All-Star
, winning the 1970 Midsummer Classic
by bowling into catcher Ray Fosse
in the 12th inning to score the winning run (the collision is also said to have ended Fosse's career, which is untrue‡
). It is this style of play that earned him the nickname "Charlie Hustle
A member of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine of the 1970s, Rose won two gold gloves during his time with the Reds, an MVP in 1973, and the Rookie Of The Year in 1963. He led the National League in batting three times, and was the World Series MVP in 1975 as the Reds beat the Red Sox in seven games. Rose set or tied 31 records while playing for the Reds, Phillies, and Expos.
On September 11, 1985 Pete Rose got his 4192nd hit of Eric Show, passing Ty Cobb for first all-time. Despite being the all-time hits leader, and holding all of those other records, the knock against Pete is that due to the sheer number of games he played in, he should have had more hits - his career average is 'only' .303. In addition, Pete was a rather dismal power hitter, hitting a home run about once every 90 at-bats (which is around 7 home runs a year). But it isn't those statistics that keep him out of the Hall of Fame.
In 1989, Pete Rose signed a statement in which he agreed to be banned from baseball for one year, at which point he could be apply for reinstatement. Rose signed the agreement as a plea bargain because it was alleged that he had bet on baseball games in which he could have had a direct impact on. For 'violating the integrity of the game', Rose has been banished for life, although baseball itself has been hypocritical. He was invited to join the All-Century Team at the 1999 All-Star Game after the fans voted him onto the team. He is also invited every year to Cooperstown to sign autographs during the induction ceremonies (of which he is never a part). And there are 28 separate pieces of Pete Rose memorabilia inside the Hall Of Fame. Why? Because he brings in a huge amount of money. But he's not allowed to even go to a baseball game, unless he buys a ticket like everyone else.
Rose hasn't done much to help his cause. Although he maintains steadfastly that he never bet on baseball, he has been critical of baseball's management and takes every opportunity to talk about himself and his plight. He appeared as a guest speaker for his son's minor league team, and told them that if they had to choose between taking drugs or gambling, they should take drugs, because if they gamble, they get kicked out of baseball forever, but if they take drugs, baseball will welcome them back with open arms after rehab. Ferguson Jenkins was arrested for drug possession and Orlando Cepeda was sentenced to five years for drug trafficking, and both entered the Hall of Fame because they shut up about it and let it get swept under the rug. Players like Steve Howe, Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry have had repeated drug offenses, and baseball accepts them back after each suspension. Rose makes a good point, but it's sometimes better to keep your mouth shut.
The more you look at who's in the Hall Of Fame, the more it becomes clear the there's no reason that Pete shouldn't be there, outside of the stubborn pride of Rose and the Commissioner's Office. Ty Cobb was a self-proclaimed racist who was charged with assault and battery, assault with a deadly weapon, and who admitted later in life to killing a man, and he's in the Hall. Cepeda and Jenkins are in the Hall. Babe Ruth used what were then illegal drugs, and he's in the Hall. Gaylord Perry is notoriously known for illegally doctoring the baseball for more than half his career, and he's in the Hall. The entire organization of baseball was morally wrong by excluding blacks from the Hall until 1962.
Pete Rose's Career Stats
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB .AVG .OBP .SLG
3562 14053 2165 4256 746 135 160 1314 1566 1143 198 .303 .375 .409
While Ray Fosse was being touted as the next Johnny Bench
, he most certainly had not proved it to that point. Having been named to the All-Star team in his rookie season, Fosse certainly appeared to have a bright future ahead of him, and the collision with Rose DID break his collarbone. But manager Alvin Dark refused to sit him when he complained that he could no longer hit - he was told to worry about his defense and the hitting would come. After playing a half season with a broken collarbone, he returned the next season and was again named an All-Star. He continued to play in the majors until 1979, but to this day still faults Rose for not sliding in what was essentially an exhibition game
. But if Fosse didn't want a collision, why did he block the plate?