Pete Rose

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Pete Rose : biography

April 14, 1941 –

1973 season

In 1973, Rose led the league with 230 hits and a .338 batting average en route to winning the NL MVP award, and leading "the Big Red Machine" to the 1973 National League Championship Series against the New York Mets.

During the fifth inning of game three of the series, Joe Morgan hit a double play ball to Mets first baseman John Milner with Rose on first. Rose’s slide into second attempting to break up the double play incited a fight with Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson, resulting in a bench-clearing brawl. The game was nearly called off when, after the Reds took the field, the Shea Stadium crowd threw objects from the stands at Rose, causing Reds manager Sparky Anderson to pull his team off the field until order was restored. Mets Manager Yogi Berra and players Willie Mays, Tom Seaver, Cleon Jones, and Rusty Staub were actually summoned by NL President Chub Feeney out to left field to calm the fans. The Reds ended up losing the game, 7–2, and the NLCS, 3–2, despite Rose’s .381 batting average in the series, and his eighth-inning home run to tie Game One and his 12th-inning home run to win Game Four.

The Big Red Machine

The Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s earned the nickname "the Big Red Machine", and is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest teams ever. On a team with many great players, Rose, along with Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Pérez, was viewed as one of the club’s leaders.

In the year 1975, Rose earned the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year and Sports Illustrated magazine’s "Sportsman of the Year" award. The following year, he was a major force in helping the Reds repeat as World Series champions. The 1976 Reds swept the Phillies 3–0 in the 1976 National League Championship Series, then swept the Yankees 4–0 in the World Series. The 1976 Cincinnati Reds remain the only team since the expansion of the playoffs in 1969 to go undefeated in the postseason. The Reds had not lost a postseason game since Carlton Fisk’s extra-inning home run in 1975, a span of 8 straight wins. A significant factor in the Reds’ success was that in 1975 and 1976 Rose made a successful switch of his primary position from the outfield to third base. This move filled a void (3B) and helped to solidify the Reds team for these 2 championship seasons as it enabled the team to make greater use of power hitting outfielder George Foster.

44-game hitting streak

On May 5, 1978, Rose became the 13th player in major league history to collect his 3,000th career hit, with a single off Montreal Expos pitcher Steve Rogers. On June 14 in Cincinnati, Rose singled in the first inning off Cubs pitcher Dave Roberts; Rose would proceed to get a hit in every game he played until August 1, making a run at Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game hitting streak, which had stood virtually unchallenged for 37 years. The streak started quietly, but by the time it had reached 30 games, the media took notice and a pool of reporters accompanied Rose and the Reds to every game. On July 19 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Rose was hitless going into the ninth with his team trailing. He ended up walking in the eighth inning and the streak appeared over. But the Reds managed to bat through their entire lineup, giving Rose another chance to bat in the ninth inning. Facing Ron Reed, Rose laid down a perfect bunt single to extend the streak to 32 games.

He would eventually tie Willie Keeler’s 1897 single season National League record at 44 games, but on August 1, the streak came to an end as Gene Garber of the Atlanta Braves struck out Rose in the ninth inning. The competitive Rose was sour after the game, blasting Garber and the Braves for treating the situation "like it was the ninth inning of the 7th game of the World Series" Instead of being insulted, Garber took the comment as a compliment: "I said to myself, ‘Well, thanks Pete. That’s how I try to pitch every time I’m in a game’."

Philadelphia Phillies (1979–1983)