Before today’s game, the Reds will celebrate the unveiling of Pete Rose’s bronze statue at Crosley Terrace at Great American Ball Park. Even though Rose remains banned from MLB for betting on games, the league has given the Reds permission to recognize the on-field accomplishments of the Cincinnati native and star. Rose was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame last year.
The graduate of Western Hills High School joins Big Red Machine teammates Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez with statues. Rose played for the Reds from 1963-1978 and 1984-1986.
Rose attended Western Hills High School. His uncle Buddy Bloebaum, who was a scout for the Reds, delivered an offer of $7,000 to Pete from his hometown team the day he graduated in 1960. Rose reported to Class D Geneva where he replaced a Cuban second baseman named Tony Perez. Rose was invited to spring training with the Reds in 1963 where his performance forced manager Fred Hutchinson to give Rose a spot on the major league roster. He debuted that Opening Day at age 22. Rose would win NL Rookie of the Year in 1963.
It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to recognize that the same hard edge that produced Rose’s trademark desire to win and reckless abandon also led the man to years of bad choices. Yet, it’s odd that the debate around Rose is so polarized considering most people understand he was both a great player and a flawed human. You’ll find people on either side of the Pete “debate” who act like the other side isn’t aware of the full picture and try to diminish either his accomplishments or personal weaknesses.
Anyhow, today is a day to celebrate Rose’s on-field accomplishments:
Pete Rose’s hit total (4256) is the highest of all time. Rose won the NL MVP (1973), Gold Gloves (1969, 1970) and was a 17-time All Star. Rose won the NL batting title three times (1968, 1969, 1973), led the NL in OBP twice (1968, 1979 – at age 38), led the NL in hits 7 times, and doubles five times.
Despite playing to age 45, the switch-hitter’s career batting average was .303. Rose walked 1566 times compared to 1143 strikeouts. He had a 44-game hitting streak in 1978 during which he struck out only five times in 182 at bats.
Pete Rose hit .321/.388/440 in 67 postseason games. After batting .370 with a .485 on-base percentage in the 1975 World Series, Rose was named Series MVP. That December, Sports Illustrated named Rose its Sportsman of the Year.
In the field, Rose played 939 games at 1B, 673 games in LF, 634 games at 3B, 628 games at 2B, 589 games in RF and 73 games in CF. He won the Gold Glove in 1968 playing RF for the first time in his career. In 1969, Rose won his second OF Gold Glove playing 101 games in RF and 56 games in CF.
Eight times Rose played at least 162 regular season games. At age 41 in 1982, he played 162 games for the Phillies. Eight other times he played 156 games or more. During the Reds 1975 and 1976 World Series championships, Pete Rose played in every game.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.