Rose, Pete

views updated May 08 2018

Pete Rose


American baseball player

Baseball's all-time leader in hits, singles, at-bats, and games played, Pete Rose has often been compared to the legendary Ty Cobb , whose decades-old hitting record Rose broke on September 11, 1985. Curiously, the comparisons

between Rose and Cobb don't end with their outstanding hitting abilities. Late in their respective careers, both men were accused of betting on their own teams. Cobb escaped relatively unscathed, when Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who was baseball's first commissioner, helped to cover up the allegations against him. In 1936, Cobb was one of the first players to be voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Sadly, Rose may never be so honored. Because of the gambling allegations, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti in early 1989 suspended Rose from baseball for life. Vehemently denying the charges, Rose battled against Giamatti's ban for several months before finally agreeing in August 1989 to accept the lifetime suspension.

Born in Cincinnati

He was born Peter Edward Rose in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 14, 1941. One of four children of Harry and LaVerne Rose, he grew up in nearby Anderson Ferry, Ohio. His father, who had once played semi-professional football, pushed Rose into sports at an early age. According to one story, Harry Rose one day went downtown to shop for a pair of shoes for his daughter but returned instead with a pair of boxing gloves for Pete. Rose spent much of his childhood playing baseball with neighborhood friends and later joined the local Little League team. At Western Hills High School in Cincinnati, he played both football and baseball but excelled particularly in the latter sport. Shortly after his graduation from high school, Rose was signed to a contract by the Cincinnati Reds. Under his contract with Reds, he was first assigned to play for the Geneva Red Legs, a Reds farm team in upstate New York.

As his game improved, Rose was promoted through the ranks of the minor league teams in the Reds farm system, putting in time with teams in Tampa, Florida, and Macon, Georgia. By the start of the 1963 season, the Reds decided that Rose was ready for the big time. During spring training that year, Rose earned the nickname "Charlie Hustle" that would stick with him throughout his career. In an exhibition game against the New York Yankees, Rose won a base on balls. Rose ran out the walk, eliciting laughter from the Yankees. Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford dubbed the rookie "Charlie Hustle."

Makes Major League Debut

On April 8, 1963, Rose made his major league debut playing second base for the Reds. He played nearly every game his rookie season. With a batting average of.273 and forty-one runs batted in, Rose was named National League (NL) Rookie of the Year. In his second season with the Reds, Rose's batting average slipped slightly to .269 and his RBIs totaled only thirty-four, but he barreled back in 1965 with a batting average of .312 and an impressive eighty-one RBIs. For the next eight seasons, through 1973, Rose posted batting averages of.300 or higher every year and in 1969 hit a career-high eighty-two RBIs. In 1967, after four years at second base, Rose was switched to outfield to make room for Joe Morgan at second base. At the end of the 1969 season, Rose and Roberto Clemente were tied for the NL batting title going into the final game of the year. In his last at-bat of the season, Rose bunted for a base hit to beat out Clemente and win the title.

For the first seven years of the 1970s, the Reds were the most successful team in the National League, and Rose clearly played a major role in powering the team's climb to the top of the league. In the 1970 All-Star Game, Rose's trademark hustle pushed the NL to victory. In the process, Rose roughed up Ray Fosse, catcher for the Cleveland Indians, in one of the most memorable plays in All-Star history. With the game tied 4-4 in the 12th inning, Rose came charging home with the winning run of the game, barreling over Fosse and separating the catcher's shoulder. After the end of the regular season, Rose fueled the Reds' drive to the NL championship in a sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the first game of the series, Rose drove in a run to break a scoreless tie in the 10th inning. He then singled during the eighth-inning rally that produced the winning run in the third game.

Leads Reds to NL Championship

In 1972 Rose, now playing left field, led the NL in hits (198) and at-bats (645), finishing the regular season with a batting average of .307. In the post-season, he batted .450 in the NL championship series against the Pirates but slipped to only .214 in the World Series, which the Reds lost to the Oakland Athletics in seven games. For Rose personally, 1973 was the best season ever. With a batting average of .338, he won his third and final batting title, was named the NL's most valuable player, and collected a career-high total of 230 hits. The Reds, however, did not fare quite as well, losing the NL championship series to the New York Mets, despite Rose's best efforts. Those best efforts included his eighth-inning homer that tied the first game of the series and a 12th-inning homer that won Game Four. Ironically, the Mets may well have been energized in their quest for the league championship by a fight Rose had in the third game with Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson.


1941Born April 14 in Cincinnati, Ohio
1960Begins pro baseball career with Geneva (NY) Red Legs
1963Makes major league debut with Cincinnati Reds
1970Becomes baseball's first singles hitter to sign six-figure contract
1989Major League Baseball launches probe into Rose gambling charges on March 6
1989Bart Giamatti announces Rose's suspension from baseball for life on August 24
1990Sentenced to five months in jail on tax charges
1991Moves from Cincinnati to Boca Raton, Florida
1997Applies for reinstatement to baseball
2003Commissioner Bud Selig considers reinstating Rose, if Rose admits to gambling on baseball

Related Biography: Baseball Player Ray Fosse

Pete Rose figured prominently in one of the more memorable moments of catcher Ray Fosse's baseball career. In the 12th inning of the 1970 All-Star Game, the score was tied 4-4. As Rose charged toward home base with the run that would win the game for the National League, Fosse blocked his way. Never one to be put off, Rose barreled right over Fosse, fracturing the catcher's right shoulder. Fosse, whose nickname was "Mule," played out the rest of the season despite the broken shoulder.

Born in Marion, Illinois, on April 4, 1947, Fosse was the number-one pick of the Cleveland Indians in the first-ever June 1965 free agent draft. After a couple of years in the Indians' farm system, Fosse made his major league debut for the Indians late in the 1967 season. He was injured a number of times during his years in professional baseball, missing all or parts of several seasons. He was traded in March 1973 to the Oakland Athletics, for whom he played through 1975. Back with the Indians in 1976 and the first part of 1977, Fosse played out the end of the 1977 season in Seattle, missed all of 1978 because of injury, and spent his final year with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1979. With a career batting average of .256, the injury-prone Fosse left baseball in 1979 and became an Oakland executive and broadcaster.

Rose's batting average slipped below .300 in 1974 to.284, but he still managed to lead the league in runs scored with 110. He bounced back in 1975, batting .317 and knocking in a total of seventy-four runs for the season. To make room for rookie outfielder Ken Griffey, Rose moved to third base. He also led the Reds to the first of two back-to-back World Series victories. In the first, against the Boston Red Sox, Rose, batting .370, piled up a total of ten hits, earning him the title of MVP for the 1975 World Series. The following year, Rose turned in a brilliant performance during the regular season with a batting average of .323 and sixty-three RBIs. In the post-season, the Reds swept the Yankees in the World Series, although Rose's personal stats were far less impressive with a series batting average of only .188.

Turns in Batting Average of .311

In 1977 Rose turned in a batting average of .311 and knocked home sixty-four runs. In 1978, he mounted the last serious threat to Joe DiMaggio 's 56-game hitting streak, pushing his personal total to forty-four consecutive games, the most for a NL player in the 20th century. Early in the season, on May 5, Rose became the youngest player ever to reach 3,000 hits. At season's end, he turned free agent, setting off a frenzied bidding war for his services. In the end, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and was assigned to play first base, his fifth position since his 1963 debut with the majors. In his first season with the Phillies, Rose turned in a batting average of .331 and knocked home fifty-nine runs. The following year his batting average slipped to .282 during the regular season, but he played well enough to help Philadelphia win its first-ever World Championship. In the ninth inning of the sixth game of the World Series, the Phillies were leading 41, but the Kansas City Royals had loaded the bases. Royal Frank White's pop-up foul bounced out of catcher Bob Boone's glove but was caught by Rose to prevent a possible tragedy. The Phillies took the series, four games to two.

During the 1981 season, shortened by a players' strike, Rose had his last .300 season and led the NL in hits. Already forty years of age, it was clear that Charlie Hustle's career was winding down, but attention remained focused on Rose as he edged ever closer to Ty Cobb's career hitting record of 4,192 hits. The night after the players' strike ended in August, Rose passed Stan Musial as the NL's all-time leading hitter. At the end of the 1981 season, Rose's total stood just shy of 3,700 hits, less than 500 from the magic mark. In 1982, his batting average slipped to .271, but he managed to add another 172 hits, bringing his total to within 323 hits of Cobb's record. During 1983, the final year of his contract with the Phillies, Rose batted only .245, but he helped the Phillies make a return visit to the World Series, which Philadelphia lost to the Baltimore Orioles in five games. By season's end, Rose's career hit total had moved up to 3,990, only 202 hits away from the magic mark.

Career Statistics

CIN: Cincinnati Reds; MON: Montreal Expos; PHI: Philadelphia Phillies.

Signed by Montreal Expos

In 1984 the Montreal Expos, looking for a marquee name to energize the team's home ticket sales, signed Rose, who celebrated his 43rd birthday a day early by

posting the 4,000th hit of his career. However, by July the Expos had benched Rose because of his failure to hit consistently. On August 16, Charlie Hustle was traded back to the Reds, this time as player-manager. Rose repaid the Reds for their vote of confidence by batting .365 for the remainder of the season. As the 1985 season began, Rose's all-time hitting record stood at 4,097, less than 100 hits away from Cobb's 4,192. Excitement mounted as Rose marched inexorably toward a new hitting record. The hitter's hometown of Cincinnati in 1985 named a street near the city's Riverfront Stadium in Rose's honor. Late in the season, on September 11, Rose, batting lefthanded, hit a single to the left off San Diego Padres pitcher Eric Show, landing himself in the record books with his 4,193rd hit. Rose managed to collect nearly a quarter of his career hits after the age of thirty-eight.

As player and manager, Rose helped guide the Reds to a second-place finish in the NL West in both 1985 and 1986, his last year as an active player. In his final appearance as a major league player on August 17, 1986, Rose, batting as a pinch hitter, struck out against pitcher Goose Gossage of the Padres. To make room for pitcher Pat Pacillo, Rose was officially dropped from the Reds' 40-man roster on November 11, 1986. He returned as manager in 1987 and 1988 but was suspended for thirty days by Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti in May 1988 after a headline-grabbing shoving incident. Rose's shoving match with umpire Dave Pallone caused a nearriot in Cincinnati. But the worst was yet to come.

Faces Charges of Betting on Baseball

The gambling scandal that was to forever mar Rose's baseball career began to take shape in 1984, when the Cincinnati hitter started to spend an increasing amount of time with a group of men he'd met at a gym in Cincinnati. This group introduced Rose to some bookmakers, and over time he allegedly developed a gambling habit that ultimately reached $15,000 a day and included bets on baseball, including games played by his own team. After reports of Rose's alleged gambling activities reached the offices of Major League Baseball, an investigation into the charges was launched early in 1989. Finally, after the probe was concluded, Commissioner Giamatti on August 24, 1989, permanently banned Rose from major league baseball. A five-page document signed by both Giamatti and Rose included no formal findings, but Giamatti said he considered Rose's acceptance of the ban to be a no-contest plea to the charges.

Whether Major League Baseball ever relents and eases its sanctions against Rose is anybody's guess. Early in 2003, Commisioner of Baseball Bud Selig was considering reinstating Rose, if the former player admitted to gambling on his own team, something Rose had always refused to admit to. Reportedly, Rose was willing to "come clean" if it meant possible reinstatement. In the meantime, the ban and the reasons for its imposition have tainted one of the most brilliant careers in baseball history and in the process given the "Charlie Hustle" nickname an alternate and less than wholesome alternate meaning.

Awards and Accomplishments

1963Named National League Rookie of the Year
1964Hits only grand slam of career on July 18
1965, 1967-71, 1973-82, 1985Voted to All-Star Team
1966Hits home runs right- and left-handed in a single game on August 30
1969Edges out Roberto Clemente to win NL batting title
1969Wins NL Gold Glove Award as outfielder
1970Wins NL Gold Glove Award as outfielder
1973Collects 2,000th hit on June 19
1973Named NL Most Valuable Player
1975Named World Series MVP
1978Collects 3,000th hit on May 5
1978Hitting streak ends at 44 games
1981Breaks Stan Musial's all-time hitting record
1985Breaks Ty Cobb's all-time hitting record with 4,193rd hit

However, nothing in the gambling allegations against Rose can alter the monumental performance of Charlie Hustle on the ball field. Nearly two decades after he set the new hitting record, Rose's career 4,256 hits stands as a mark for other ambitious batters to shoot for. And even when Rose's record falls, as eventually it almost certainly will, he will be remembered as one of baseball's greats, whether or not he is ever enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.


Address: Pete Rose, c/o Pete Rose Ball Park Café, 1601N. Congress Ave., Boynton Beach, FL 33426. Email: whg [email protected]. Online:


The Official Pete Rose Scrapbook: The Life, Times, and Record-Smashing of Charlie Hustle, Prentice Hall, 1975.

(With Bob Hertzel) Pete Rose's Winning Baseball, Mc-Graw-Hill, Contemporary Books, 1976.

Pete Rose: My Life in Baseball, Doubleday, 1979.

(With Hal Bodley) Countdown to Cobb: My Diary of the Record-Breaking 1985 Season, Sporting News, 1985.

Pete Rose: My Story, MacMillan, 1989.

Agreement and Resolution In the Matter of: Peter Edward Rose "2"

Therefore, the Commissioner, recognizing the benefits to Baseball from a resolution of this matter, orders and directs that Peter Edward Rose be subject to the following disciplinary sanctions, and Peter Edward Rose, recognizing the sole and exclusive authority of the Commissioner and that it is in his interest to resolve this matter without further proceedings, agrees to accept the following disciplinary sanctions imposed by the Commissioner:

  • Peter Edward Rose is hereby declared permanently ineligible in accordance with Major League Role 21 and placed on the Ineligible List.
  • Nothing in this Agreement shall deprive Peter Edward Rose of the rights under Major League Rule 15 to apply for reinstatement. Peter Edward Rose agrees not to challenge, appeal, or otherwise contest the decision of, or the procedure employed by, the Commissioner or any future Commissioner in the evaluation of any applications for reinstatement.
  • Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any Major League Baseball game.

Source: Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, "Agreement and Resolution," August 23, 1989.

(With Roger Kahn) Ballplayer! The Headfirst Life of Peter Edward Rose, Warner Books, 1990.



"Pete Rose." American Decades CD-ROM. Detroit: Gale Group, 1998.

"Pete Rose." Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement, Vol. 21. Detroit: Gale Group, 1998.

"Pete Rose." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, 5 vols. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000.


"Agreement and Resolution." (November 16, 2002).

"Biography." Pete Rose's Official Web Site. (November 1, 2002).

"Chronology of Rose Case." (November 16, 2002).

"Pete Rose." (November 1, 2002).

"Ray Fosse." (November 18, 2002).

Sketch by Don Amerman

Pete Rose

views updated May 29 2018

Pete Rose

Pete Rose (born 1941), who got more hits than any player in professional baseball history, was banned from any further association with the game for allegedly betting on baseball games while he was a player and manager. Rose was suspended for life by baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989 and thus denied certain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Named to the game's All-Century Team in 1999, Rose continued to plead for his reinstatement, gaining the support of many fans, players, and baseball officials.

Anative of Cincinnati, Rose was a player of limited physical talents but unlimited heart. He scrapped and fought for his teams throughout a twenty-four-year career. His intensity on the field earned him the nickname "Charlie Hustle." Playing five different positions, Rose secured many major league records for longevity. Finally, in 1985, he surpassed Ty Cobb's all-time record for career hits, finishing with 4,256. But the gambling scandal and his lifetime ban overshadowed Rose's career. Long after his playing days, Rose remained a controversial figure, one of the game's greatest stars but also one of its most famous black sheep.

Charlie Hustle

Pete Rose was born and raised in Cincinnati, the town where he would become famous on the ball diamond. His father, Harry Rose, who once played semi-pro football, pushed his son into athletics at an early age. One day, the story goes, Harry went to the store to buy a pair of shoes for his daughter and came back with a pair of boxing gloves for Pete. From then on, sports dominated Pete's life.

After hustling his way through several sports in grade school and high school, Rose settled on baseball. Though he was not considered a top prospect, his hometown Cincinnati Reds signed him to a professional contract. Rose began his pro career in 1960 with the Geneva Red Legs of the New York-Penn League and spent several years laboring in the minors, cementing his reputation for energetic play. He was about to turn 22 when he got the nickname "Charlie Hustle" during spring training of 1963. New York Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford bestowed it on him after he saw Rose running out a base on balls. His hustle helped him make the Reds that year, and Rose immediately became the regular second baseman. He was named Rookie of the Year.

Right away, Rose was a solid contributor. In 1965, Rose batted .312 and led the league in hits with 209. It was the first of 15 seasons in which he would hit at least .300, the first of 10 seasons with 200 or more hits (a major league record) and the first of five years leading the league in hits. In 1968, he won the first of his three batting championships, hitting for a .335 batting average, and the following year he recorded a career-high .348 average.

Rose became the sparkplug of a young team that was developing many stars. In 1967, after four years at second base, Rose was switched to the outfield to make room for future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan. Never a spectacular fielder, Rose nonetheless was recognized with two Gold Gloves for fielding excellence as an outfielder, in 1969 and 1970. Rose spent eight seasons playing left field or right field before moving to third base in 1975.

In the first seven years of the 1970s, Cincinnati was the most successful team in the National League. Five times, the Reds won their division and four times-in 1970, 1972, 1975 and 1976-they made it to the World Series. Known as the "Big Red Machine," the Reds were led by such future Hall of Famers as Joe Morgan, catcher Johnny Bench, and first baseman Tony Perez. Rose was the backbone of the team and its spirited leader. He became known for his head first slides and for running out every single ball he hit. Though he had only average speed, he stole 198 bases in his career.

In 1972, Rose helped the Reds win Game Five of the World Series over the Oakland As, opening the game with a home run and driving in the winning run in the ninth inning with a single. Nevertheless, the Reds lost the series, as they had in 1970. In 1975, Rose was named the World Series Most Valuable Player for batting .370 and leading the Reds to a memorable victory over Boston in the seven-game series, considered by many to be the greatest of the modern era. In 1976, the Reds swept the Yankees in four games, but Rose batted only .188.

Hit King

When the wheels fell off the Big Red Machine, Cincinnati no longer could afford to keep Rose. After the 1978 season, during which Rose established a modern National League record with a 44-game hitting streak, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, getting a four-year, $3.2 million contract that at the time was the biggest in baseball history. Again, he became a leader on a successful team. The Phillies made the playoffs in 1980, 1981 and 1983. They won the World Series in 1980 and lost it in 1983. On the Phillies, the aging Rose played for the most part at first base. He led the league in doubles at age 39 and in hits at age 40, when he batted .321 during the strike-shortened 1981 season.

With his glory days behind him, Rose focused on the goal of overtaking the legendary Cobb and his all-time hits record, which many experts had considered unbreakable. After a 1983 season in which he batted only .245, Rose did not seem likely to make it. Ten hits short of becoming the second man in baseball history with 4,000 hits, Rose was let go by Philadelphia. He was picked up by the Montreal Expos and surpassed the 4,000-hit mark. Later in that 1984 season, he returned to Cincinnati in a trade for fringe player Tom Lawless, and was named manager of the team.

Now the way was clear for Rose to pursue his quest of Cobb. As manager, he could put himself in the lineup whenever he liked, and he was not about to quit until he reached his goal. "I'd go through hell in a gasoline suit to keep playing baseball," Rose said at the time. At the start of the 1985 season, he was turning 44 years old and was still 94 hits behind Cobb's record of 4,191. Finally, on September 11, he surpassed the record. Rose played one more season, batting only .219, before hanging up his spikes at age 45. He remained as manager of the Reds through the 1989 season, and though his teams never won a pennant, they won 414 games against 373 losses.

Although Rose was the all-time hit king of major league baseball, he had plenty of critics among baseball experts. Few considered him to be in the same class as Cobb as a hitter. For his career, Cobb batted .369, Rose .303. Rose had more than 2,600 at-bats than Cobb. Rose's endurance was an impressive testament to his determination. Rose's 14,053 career at-bats and 3,562 games were both all-time records, and he placed second on the all-time list in doubles, with 746, and fourth in runs, with 2,165. No one else ever played at least 100 games or got at least 100 hits during 23 different seasons. Yet Rose won only three batting championships and hit only 160 career home runs. His slugging percentage of .409 and on-base percentage of .373-considered by modern baseball experts to be the best measures of batting prowess-were not impressive.

Despite these shortcomings, Rose was virtually certain to be voted into the Hall of Fame. Rose epitomized the hard-nosed player who made the most out of his talents through tremendous desire. As "Charlie Hustle," he was an American icon, a hero to the people of Cincinnati and to many Americans. And though Rose often seemed egotistical, speaking his mind and irritating reporters and baseball officials, his personality was irrelevant to his on-field accomplishments.

Charlie Hustler

The knocks against Rose paled in significance to the storm that was brewing about his association with gamblers. Starting in 1984, Rose had begun hanging out with a group of men he had met at a Cincinnati gym. Through them he met bookmakers. He allegedly developed a betting habit that reached the vicinity of $15,000 a day. To pay gambling debts he even gave bookies one of his World Series rings and the bat he used to break Cobb's record.

In 1989, after a lengthy investigation, Giamatti, the baseball commissioner, concluded that Rose had bet on baseball games, including some involving Cincinnati, his own team. Two of his friends from the gym-who had both been convicted of felony drug charges-claimed Rose had gambled on baseball. According to baseball rules, Rose had to be banished. After waging a legal fight, Rose signed an agreement in which he accepted his suspension but did not admit to gambling on baseball games. He admitted he was a compulsive gambler but said he was guilty only of having a poor selection of friends.

Things got worse for Rose in 1990, when he served five months in prison for tax evasion. After getting out of jail, he became a fixture on the autograph circuit, hawking memorabilia, earning more money, and trying to polish his tarnished image.

According to the rules of Major League baseball, Rose can petition for reinstatement. No one banned from the sport has ever been let back in, but if he succeeded, Rose would be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Rose's campaign for reinstatement became as single-minded and determined as his quest for Cobb's record. Among his supporters was former President Jimmy Carter, who said that "evidence about [Rose] specifically betting on baseball is less than compelling." Many players and managers also rallied to his cause. Philadelphia teammate Mike Schmidt, speaking during his own Hall of Fame induction, said: "I hope some day, some day soon, Pete Rose will be standing right here."

Rose was married twice and has a son and a daughter from each marriage. His son from his first marriage, Pete Rose, Jr., enjoyed a mediocre career in professional baseball, mostly in the minor leagues. Rose Sr. relocated to Boca Raton, Florida, where he entered the restaurant business and hosted a radio talk show. "I've paid for what I did, and that still doesn't seem to be good enough," he told an interviewer in 1999.

In 1999, Major League baseball selected its All-Century team, and fans voted Rose a spot among the elite. Despite the ban, Rose was allowed to stand on a podium at the All-Star Game in Atlanta alongside the other living members of the team. Of all the game's great stars who were introduced that evening, Rose received the loudest ovation from the fans. In a nationally televised interview after the ceremony, Rose refused to apologize and continued to deny he had bet on baseball.

In the summer of 2000, teammate Perez and Sparky Anderson, who managed the Big Red Machine in the 1970s, were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. On the day of their induction, Rose sat at a table outside a souvenir shop in the town, signing autographs and telling a reporter: "Fans realize I made mistakes. They know I've paid for my mistakes. They're willing to turn the page."


Reston, James, Jr., Collision at Home Plate: The Lives of Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti, University of Nebraska, 1997.


Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, March 23, 1994; November 2, 1995; January 12, 1999; July 22, 2000.

Sport, March, 2000.


"Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Pete Rose," The Baseball Archive,

"The Pete Rose Hall of Fame Controversy," Cosmic Baseball Association,

"Pete Rose," Total Baseball,