Happy Birthday, Hit King

Happy Birthday, Hit King


Happy Birthday, Hit King

On April 8, 1963, a 21-year-old Rose took the field as the everyday second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds. In that game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the eventual “Hit King” went hitless, but walked and scored the first run of the game.

Five days later, Rose would get the first of 4256 career base knocks.

Friday…we celebrate the 76th birthday of should-be Hall of Famer Pete Rose.


On April 20, 1990, “Charlie Hustle” pleaded guilty to two charges of filing false income tax returns. Three months later, he was sentenced to five months in prison and fined $50,000. Rose was released on January 7, 1991 after having paid $366,041 in back taxes and interest.


Rose holds plenty of Major League record – hits (4256), games played (3562), at bats (14,053)…the list goes on and on. But, with all those at bats and what not comes a dubious distinction, Rose is also holds the record for most outs with 10,328.


In September 1997, Pete Rose Jr. made the Majors, playing in 11 games for the Cincinnati Reds. With two hits in 14 at bats, the Roses combined for 4258 Major League base hits, the fourth-most ever by a father and son behind Bobby and Barry Bonds, the Ken Griffeys and Gus and Buddy Bell. That said, the duo is the only father-and-son combo to get more than 6000 hits in professional ball…with 6467 combined.


In 1991, Rose was permanently banned by the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, in 2004, he was inducted into the Celebrity Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. Several times, Rose appeared during a WWE televised event, including three WrestleManias.


Following his rookie season, Rose entered the US Army Reserves. He was assigned to Fort Knox for six months of active duty, which was followed by six years of regular attendance with a 478th Engineering Battalion.


When Rose returned to the Cincinnati Reds in on August 15, 1984, he was named player-manager. His stint as skipper would last until 1989. Along the way, Rose would compile a 412-373 record…good for the seventh most wins of any Reds manager.


On June 14, 1978 in Cincinnati, Rose singled in the first inning off Cubs pitcher Dave Roberts. The “Hit King” would end up hitting in 44-straight games…tying Willie Keeler’s National League record. It needs to be mentioned that during the hit streak, Rose hit .385.


On April 30, 1988, Rose, then the Cincinnati Reds manager, made physical contact with umpire Dave Pallone after arguing a safe call in the ninth inning that allowed the winning run to score. Rose was subsequently suspended for 30 days, the longest suspension ever handed out for an incident involving a manager.


After starting his career 0-for-11, Rose finally got his first big league hit on April 13, 1963…a triple off Pittsburgh Pirates righty Bob Friend. He would end up the season with 170 hits, a .273 batting average and 17 of the 20 National League Rookie of the Year votes. And with that award in hand, I think we all know what the next 23 years would bring.


Even though he had been previously deemed “ineligible” for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Rose actually did receive 41 write-in votes (9.5%) in 1992…the year that would have been his inaugural year on the ballot.


During his big league career, Rose was selected to the National League All-Star team 17 times…second most of anyone on the senior circuit. More impressive, dude did it at five different positions: first base, second base, third base, leftfield and rightfield. Oh, not as impressive, Rose hit just .212 (7-for-33) in the 16 games he played in.


Over his 24-year career, the “Hit King” only led the National League in batting average three times…all with the Cincinnati Reds. In 1968, Rose hit .335. A year later, he followed it up with a .348 batting average. And in 1973, he hit .338. All in all, Rose finished in the top ten in batting average nine times.


Rose wasn’t known as a home run hitter at all, but he did manage to muscle 160 of them out of the park. But, of those 16 long balls, only one came with the bases loaded. Yup, on July 18, 1964, Rose sent a Dallas Green offering deep for his lone grand slam.


In 1969, the batting title between Rose and eventual Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente came down to the last game of the season and, literally, the last at bat of the season. Rose got the last laugh, bunting for a base hit and raising his average to .348. Clemente hit .345. But, if you want to get technical, the gap was a mere .00252 (.347687 to .345167). Oh, an interesting sidenote…in 1976, Rose would go on to win the Roberto Clemente Award, an award that is given to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team”.


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