Pete Rose and I have a checkered past. I hated him as a kid, mostly because I was an Oriole fan (and an American League guy). Probably the height of my hatred was in 1980 when he caught the ricochet of the foul ball off of Bob Boone's glove in the World Series and then spiked the ball. Everyone says Pete played the game the right way, but he was one of the original hot dogs in baseball.
In about 1982, however, I decided that Pete would likely break the all-time hits record and set out to collect all of his baseball cards. Right now, I have way more than 100 different Pete Rose cards, and every regular issue card but his rookie and second-year cards. I also have some pretty cool first day covers (popular in stamp collecting) from September 10 and 11, 1985, from Chicago where Pete tied the record and Cincinnati when he broke it. They're autographed. I paid $8 for them when they came out, but have no idea what they might be worth now. So I had a lot invested in Pete making the Hall of Fame and being one of the all-time greats. (What I should have done is started collecting Nolan Ryan cards, but that's another story.)
The Reds are honoring Pete tonight on the 25th anniversary of his record breaking hit, number 4192. (He ended up with 4256.) The Reds got an exemption from MLB to allow Pete to be recognized. If Pete had told the truth right away, these types of appearances would have been common place for him. (His last such appearance was for the Master Card sponsored All-Century team.) But baseball was never going to let Pete back into a clubhouse. What Pete really wanted (wants?) was to be a manager. Or, more cynically, a paycheck from a major league team. That's why he didn't tell the truth. He doesn't care about the recognition; he wants the paycheck.
Mike Mussina, Hall of Famer
4 weeks ago