Wednesday, May 25, 2011

#207 Pete Rose

#207 Pete Rose
Uh-oh, Mad Max is back with another Hall of Famer! Frankly, I'm just happy to get back to one player per card. I've been stretching myself awfully thin, don't ya know. If you're keeping track of my progress in posting, this card arrived from Max in November 2009. But I really am closing the gap.

Fun facts about Pete Rose:

-Pete signed with his hometown Cincinnati Reds as a teenager in 1960.

-He won the Reds' starting second base job to begin the 1963 season and was named NL Rookie of the Year despite a somewhat tepid stat line: .273/.334/.371 (101 OPS+), 6 HR, 41 RBI, 13 of 28 success rate on steals. He did score 101 runs, and that was enough to beat out an underwhelming rookie crop headed by Ron Hunt (.272/.334/.396, 10 HR, 42 RBI).

-Nicknamed "Charlie Hustle" for his all-out style of play, he soon established himself as one the premier contact hitters in the game. In 1965 he batted .312/.382/.446 with 35 doubles, 11 triples, 11 homers, and 81 RBI and led the league with 209 hits, the first of seven hit titles in his career. He was also named to the All-Star Game for the first of 17 times.

-Other league-leading totals for Pete included runs scored (4x), doubles (5x), batting average (3x), and on-base percentage (2x). He even won a couple of Gold Gloves for his play in right field in 1969 and 1970. He also tied Wee Willie Keeler's National League record with a 44-game hitting streak in 1978.

-His most famous (and infamous) on-field escapade came in the 1970 All-Star Game, when he raced around the bases on a Jim Hickman single and plowed into Indians catcher Ray Fosse to jar the ball loose and score the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning. Many fans and pundits hyperbolically claim that this incident stunted the 23-year-old Fosse's career, but that seems a bit much. Though he never again matched his numbers from that year (.307/.361/.469, 18 HR, 61 RBI), he did play for the rest of the decade and even picked up another All-Star nod and Gold Glove in 1971.

-Rose had five top-five finishes in MVP voting, and won the award outright in 1973 when he hit a league-best .338 with 115 runs scored for the National League West champs.

-He was a member of six World Series teams, ending up on the losing side in 1970 and 1972 with the Reds and 1983 with the Phillies. His teams won it all in 1975 and 1976 (Reds) and 1980 (Phillies). He had a career postseason average of .321, which includes a .370 mark in the 1975 Fall Classic. He also reached base in that Series at a .485 clip and earned MVP honors.

-Pete joined the Expos in 1984, but an August trade allowed him to return to the Reds as a player-manager. While writing himself into the lineup on a regular basis, he was able to catch and pass Ty Cobb for the all-time hits record, breaking through with #4,192 on September 11, 1985 - a single off of San Diego's Eric Show. He retired as a player in 1986, having racked up 4,256 hits in parts of 24 seasons. He batted .303/.375/.409 with 160 home runs and 1,314 RBI, and his 746 doubles are second all-time to Tris Speaker's total of 792. His managerial record was 412-373 (.525) in parts of 6 seasons.

-Rose's son, Pete Jr., played pro baseball for an astonishing 21 years, finally retiring in 2009 with 1,877 hits and a .271 average in the minor leagues. However, his entire major league career consisted of an 11-game stint with the Reds in 1997. He went 2-for-14 with a pair of walks.

-Pete continued managing the Reds until being suspended by commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989. A lengthy investigation (the Dowd Report) had revealed that Rose had been gambling on several sports, including baseball. He accepted a lifetime ban from the game in exchange for MLB not formally finding him guilty. He remains banned to this day, and is therefore ineligible for the Hall of Fame. Even his confessions of guilt in subsequent years have been conditional (i.e., he's never admitted to betting on his own team, despite evidence to the contrary) and have been dismissed by many as self-serving and insincere. However, the WWE inducted him into the celebrity wing of their Hall of Fame in 2004, in recognition of his recurring appearances as a sacrificial lamb to hulking wrestler Kane at various Wrestlemania events. So he's got that going for him.
#207 Pete Rose (back)

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