Pete Rose : biography
The Philadelphia Phillies had won the National League East three years running (1976–1978) two of which were won with 101 win seasons, but were unable to make it to the World Series. In 1979, believing that he was the player who could bring them over the top, the Phillies temporarily made Rose the highest-paid athlete in team sports when they signed him to a four-year, $3.2-million contract as a free agent. With perennial All-Star Mike Schmidt firmly entrenched at third, Rose made the final position change of his career to first base.
Although they missed the postseason in his first year with the team, they earned three division titles (one in the first half of the strike shortened 1981 season), two World Series appearances and their first ever World Series title () in the following four years.
The worst season of Rose’s career was also the season that the Phillies played in their second World Series in four years, 1983. Rose batted only .245 with 121 hits, and found himself benched during the latter part of the ’83 season, appearing periodically to play and pinch hit. Rose did blossom as a pinch-hitter, with 8 hits in 21 at bats, a .381 average.
Pete Rose bounced back in a big way during the postseason, batting .375 (6-for-16) during the N.L. Playoffs against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and .312 in the World Series (5-for-16). Rose collected only one hit in his first eight at-bats in the first two games in Baltimore against the 1983 A.L. Champions. Rose found himself benched for game three back in Philadelphia, and would ground out in a pinch-hitting appearance. Worse yet, Rose showed some unsportsmanlike attitude toward his own manager, Paul Owens, complaining about his benching in a pre-game interview with ABC’s Howard Cosell. Rose bounced back with four hits in his last seven at-bats in the remaining two games. Still, the Phillies lost decisively to the Baltimore Orioles in the 1983 World Series, 4 games to 1.
Montreal Expos (1984)
Rose was granted an unconditional release from the Phillies in late October 1983. Phillies management wanted to retain Rose for the 1984 season, but he refused to accept a more limited playing role. Months later, he signed a one-year contract with the Montreal Expos. On April 13, 1984, the 21st anniversary of his first career hit, Rose doubled off of the Phillies’ Jerry Koosman for his 4,000th career hit, becoming only the second player in the 4000 hit club (joining Ty Cobb).
Second stint with the Cincinnati Reds (1984–1986)
Rose was traded to the Reds for infielder Tom Lawless on August 15, 1984 and was immediately named player-manager, replacing Reds’ manager Vern Rapp. Though he only batted .259 for the Expos, his average jumped to .365 with the Reds, as he managed them to a 19–22 record for the remainder of the season.
On September 11, 1985, Rose broke Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record with his 4,192nd hit, a single to left-center field off San Diego Padres pitcher Eric Show. According to its web site, MLB.com, Major League Baseball continues to recognize Cobb’s final hit total as 4,191, though independent research has revealed that two of Cobb’s hits were counted twice. Because of this, it has been suggested that Rose actually broke Cobb’s record against the Cubs’ Reggie Patterson with a single in the first inning of a Reds’ 5–5 called game against Chicago on September 8. Because Rose broke Cobb’s record, ABC’s Wide World of Sports named Rose as its Athlete of the Year that year. Rose accumulated a total of 4,256 hits before his final career at-bat, a strikeout against San Diego’s Goose Gossage on August 17, 1986.
MLB All-Century team
In 1999, Rose was selected as an outfielder on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. To select the team, a panel of experts first compiled a list of the 100 greatest players from the past century. Fans then voted on the players using paper and online ballots.
An exception was made to his ban to allow him to participate in the pre-game introduction of the All-Century team before Game 2 of the 1999 World Series between the Braves and Yankees. Despite never having been a member of the Braves, Rose received the loudest ovation of the All-Century team members from the crowd at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.